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Debut of Sam Dobrow’s Surreal Art at Confidante Hotel Miami Beach

from the Surreality Collection by Sam Dobrow

The Confidante Hotel on Miami Beach will debut an exhibition of Sam Dobrow’s Oceana Series of surreal photographic art. The Oceana series depicts surreal visions of historic landmarks along iconic Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, FL. The collection of nine works, each sized 20″ x 30″, will be installed in the lobby of the hotel. Sam has previewed several of these works with galleries in New York, Miami, and Paris; however, this is the first time the entire body of work will be publicly exhibited. Several new pieces in the series will be unveiled at the exhibition.

Sam will also exhibit fine art photography from his other South Beach collections in the public areas of the Confidante Hotel during the exhibition. The exhibition, open to the public, opens Thursday, April 5 and closes Thursday, May 31. Information on acquiring the artwork will be available at the front desk.

The opening night event on Thursday, April 5, will feature a brief artist talk by Sam explaining the inspiration behind this body of work. A complimentary cocktail and hors d’oeuvres are provided by the Confidante Hotel. Street and valet parking is available. RSVP is requested.

The Event: Artist talk and unveiling of "Oceana" series of surreal art
The Place: The Confidante Hotel, 4101 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL
The Date: Thursday, April 5, 2018
The Time: 7:00 PM

Please RSVP each guest individually.
Complimentary cocktail for guests with RSVP.

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[NSFW] New Additions to the Mystic Collection

St Andrews Muse (30x45) fine art photography by Sam Dobrow

St Andrews Muse (30×45)

The Mystic Collection is evolving from figurative works into surreal creations that depict mythological female characters. Recent additions to the Mystic collection stretch the boundaries of photography further than anything I’ve done to date. I’m not just enhancing color and abstracting images to create a painterly effect. I’m creating an altered reality. Not only are the landscapes transformed into spiritual places but the figures are transformed into icons of feminine beauty.

Surreal worlds

Although inspired by Jerry Uelsmann, I do not create imaginary objects by combining multiple photographs the way he does. I conjure up imaginary worlds. These imaginary worlds would be better compared to Salvador Dali’s worlds where his subjects melt and concepts evade articulation. Symbols tell the story while color sets the mood. Feelings evolve from primordial senses.

Altered states, A parallel universe

The mystic worlds are parallel universes to the world we perceive. They coexist with our world but in a different dimension of time and space.

We are transported to a world that seems familiar but isn’t. Its places we’ve been but have never seen. Its things we’ve seen but could not touch.

Subconscious desires, Unquestionable beauty

Deep in the subconscious lies a burning desire, a seductive beauty, an erotic encounter, a frightening gesture

Mystical characters, Spiritual journeys

Travels that bring us to question the meaning of our existence

Stories to perplex the mind

Ask me not to articulate the meaning for the meaning is unspeakable. The story is in your mind. Can you tell it?

The Mystic Collection contains nudity and may not be appropriate for viewing at work. Three new pieces can be viewed using the links below:

Contact me if you are interested in acquiring a limited edition print for your art collection.

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Eat What You Kill

“Eat what you kill” is an old saying among sales people. It refers to working in a very competitive environment where you get no support from your team and your survival is based on what ever you can personally produce. It refers to the hunter who leaves for many days to hunt down game but finds enough only to feed himself on the trail. When I visited the Otavalo (Peru) Saturday market this sense of subsistence living took on a rather visual meaning. I observed the indigenous Quechua people from all around the Sacred Valley of the Incas coming to a central market to barter their wares, livestock, and produce. The Quechua people live, for the most part, in a subsistence economy. Some are more successful than others but the economy as a whole is a subsistence economy.

In this first photo story, I bring you into the Otavalo animal market where families face the cold reality that their livestock, that might have served as the family pets, are going to be sold, slaughtered, and eaten. You can see the mixed emotions on peoples faces from young children to grown adults.

[click a photo to open the slideshow in a lightbox]

The frugal nature of a subsistence economy becomes quite obvious when you look at what the Quechua people buy in the food market. Vegetarian fare is considered a poor man’s meal. Meat is considered a symbol of wealth. When animals are slaughtered, every part of the animal is eaten, except perhaps, the bones. This second photo story documents many of the meat items offered for sale in the market.

[click a photo to open the slideshow in a lightbox]

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Breaking All The Rules

Photography was once seen as something to be mastered in its purity very much the way pre-impressionist painting was to be mastered to present a perfect rendition of realism. Ansel Adams was revered as the master of photography and his zone system became a standard to measure the perfection of black and white prints. While in high school, I spent much of my time either behind a camera or in the darkroom. The end goal always seemed to center on getting the widest range of tones and learning how to see black and white while looking at colors. I learned to control both my film and print development chemistry to achieve a full dynamic range in my final prints. My early education in photography was all about technique and little about content. Content was whatever the camera saw and whatever the photographer decided to document. All of these rules were turned upside down when I went to college and fell under the influences of Jerry Uelsmann.

I brought my camera and darkroom equipment to college and worked in a closet which was only dark enough to develop prints at night. My course of study was business and economics but my passion was always photography. I took my electives in the school of photography. My professors expected me to produce technically strong prints as a prerequisite to being in a photography class and little need be said about print quality.

Our discussions focused on content, meaning, and expression. The surreal works of Jerry Uelsmann were on display everywhere and everyone tried to emulate his darkroom techniques using several images to compose something from the imagination. Dr. Uelsmann also brought in guest photographers from other “fringe” disciplines, like Robert Heinekken of UCLA, to speak at UF. The world of classic photographers was aghast at the “photographic heresy” that was coming out of the University of Florida school of Photography under the leadership of Jerry Uelsmann. These students were not learning photojournalism. They were not learning portraiture. They were not learning the zone system. They were lost in outer space seeking meaning to their hallucinations.

As the camera saw the scene – pure and unemotional

There I was starting to experiment with the camera, creating abstract images sometimes combining images both through multiple exposures and in the darkroom. In critique we would present our images and explain them to the class. Many times the images had no story, they merely combined pleasing images together. Many times the images conveyed sensual and erotic undertones. The interesting part of the feedback was that it was never judgemental. The feedback usually took the form of compositional critique. Suggestions on how a camera angle might be changed to create more powerful leading lines or how darker shadows might have added mystery. We were encouraged to break the rules, nothing was taboo. I always left class energized and excited about the next week’s assignment.

Melted effects before sky, moon, and stars – color to enhance the mood

This is where the seeds of my internal battle with photography were sewn. A conflict between purity and anarchy. A raging battle sorting out the influences of Ansel Adams and Jerry Uelsmann. Then we add a new element to the cauldron – color! With the emergence of digital photography and Photoshop all constraints were removed. After a long and successful career in business and computer software, I went back to art school to take the core classes in photography. I already had a Bachelor and a Master degree in business so I didn’t need another Bachelor degree. What I wanted was the core education in photography. I wanted to master Photoshop and learn studio photography. And that’s what I did. I learned how to manage my workflow to assure color consistency from camera to computer to paper. Along the way I also picked up a healthy exposure to the work of many iconic photographers who shaped the world of photography. Interestingly enough there was no mention of Jerry Uelsmann who had been doing in the darkroom for decades what people were now learning to do with Photoshop.

All photoshop effects for color, moon and fog before luminosity mask

Armed with a new set of tools, I began the traditional photography of people and places but in the back of my head the voices of anarchy were calling me. I began to experiment using color to create moods. I would push the technical limits of the printer’s color gamut just as I had pushed the limits of silver emulsions with chemistry and temperature decades ago. Soon my work began to evolve from “pure photography” to something more painterly and surreal. My excitement continued to grow and my creativity spawned new forms of art. I was using and “abusing” techniques of high dynamic range (HDR) photo processing. I wanted my images to pop with color and abstractions the way impressionist paintings did. I was out there on the fringe where most photographers dared not to go. But then the voice of tradition started hearkening from the shadows. There was something missing in these prints – something that only real film could provide. They were missing that grainy texture and smooth tonal quality of a fine black and white photograph. I had to do something about it.

B&W Luminosity Mask – mastered with the zone system

A new technique, designed to marry the opposites of tradition and anarchy, provides a signature look to all my recent works of art. My art begins with a photograph. I work to find that angle, compose the frame with the right light, and freeze that fleeting moment of time with the camera. I develop the image in the digital darkroom using all the tools of my craft to create a stimulating perception of the moment with careful attention to colors, contrast, sharpness, and composition. Then I start to adjust the image to look like a classic photograph. I burn down the edges, add a black frame edge reminiscent of the film edge in medium format cameras, and convert to black and white using a set of filters designed to recreate the prints from my childhood darkroom.

The filters emulate Kodak Panatomic film, a very fine grain film with a smooth transitional tonal range and strong contrast. I simulate prints on Ilford papers processed with a cold, slow working developer with warm tones (like Selectol). Once the black and white print is mastered, I overlay it on top of the color print and set the layer as a luminosity mask. The result is a full color print with the luminosity of a classic black and white photograph. Perhaps this child of tradition and anarchy is the countermanding force to bring about a peaceful resolution to the war that has fought itself out in my quest for truth in photography. Jerry Uelsmann taught me that its OK to create things that you may not be able to assign meaning to. It’s OK to break the rules. My photographic art does both.

Final work of art after luminosity mask applied yielding that vintage film feeling

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Spectrum Miami Opening Night Party Tonight

Miami’s Spectrum Art Show opens tonight at 6PM with a preview party and continues throughout Miami Art Week also know as Art Basel Miami. Sam Dobrow will be exhibiting works from his Surreality Collection in the International Contemporary Art Society (ICAS) booth #115. Sam will be at the booth to greet guests and discuss his artwork. We hope to see you there!

Parking in the Spectrum lot is $20 [ MAP ]

Beat the traffic.
LYFT has special offers for Spectrum Miami 2017 attendees:
New User code: LYFTART17
Current User code: ARTRIDE17

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ICAS Hosts Sam Dobrow Photography at Miami Spectrum

Please visit the International Contemporary Art Society Booth #115 to see recently released works of art from the Surreality Collection. Request free tickets to the opening night party on my website [link].

ICAS Hosts Sam Dobrow Photography at Miami Spectrum

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Free Passes: Sam Dobrow Exhibits at Miami Spectrum 2017

Moon Colony - fine art by sam dobrow


Sam Dobrow will be exhibiting at Miami Spectrum during Miami Art Week (“Art Basel Miami”). Sam’s recent works, just back from exhibition in the Carousel du Louvre in Paris, France, will be shown in the Saphira and Ventura Gallery booth.

Spectrum Miami VIP Passes

Hello Friends and fellow Art Collectors,

During Art Basel Miami, I will be exhibiting at Spectrum. I am offering free multi-day general admission (Guest Tickets - $75 value) to the Red Dot, Art Spot, and Spectrum Miami exhibits for anyone who would like to see the show and visit my exhibit (subject to availability).

Additionally, I have special access passes for art collectors (Collector Tickets).

Please register for tickets using the form below. Tickets will be sent by email. By requesting tickets, you are also requesting to receive occasional notices when my new artwork is released.

* indicates required field

Please come by for promotional “show only” pricing and tell the gallery representative you are here to see Sam Dobrow’s art.

About Sam Dobrow

Sam Dobrow is a contemporary photographic artist who lives and works in the artist village of Coconut Grove, Florida. In the digital darkroom, Sam continues to test the boundaries of photography. All of his artwork begins in the camera and evolves into images with intensely beautiful constructs amplified by his emotions and perceptions of the world and its inhabitants. Whether it is a street scene, portrait or figurative works, Sam captures beauty by presenting subjects shaped by light, framed by strong graphical elements, and emotionally supercharged by the thoughtful choice of color.

According to Sam, the art of photography begins with a feeling, followed by seeing through the camera with anticipation, and ultimately developing an image that speaks to that feeling.

About Saphira and Ventura Gallery

The Saphira & Ventura Gallery (S&V Gallery) and the New York International Contemporary Art Society (NYICAS) are non-profit entities established for the purpose of collecting, preserving and disseminating contemporary art. These efforts are employed via participation in internationally recognized exhibitions, fairs, and events; as part of a provocative effort to educate artists while showcasing contemporary artwork with a multicultural perspective.

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Spectrum Booth Debuts as Banner Page

My booth at Spectrum Miami 2016 has been selected for a banner page on the 2017 website. I’m looking to share space this year. Check back here to get booth information.

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Midtown New York Exhibition Starts Today

Sam Dobrow Fine Art Photography Midtown NYC Exhibit

Works from the Surreality Collection, returning from exhibition in Paris at the Carousel du Louvre have landed in New York for a two week exhibit with the International Contemporary Art Society in Midtown New York.

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Transforming Camera Images into Surreal Fine Art

Solstacia II (30x60) fine art by Sam Dobrow

“Solstacia II”

Most people agree that photography is a fine art even though it has not always been thought of as such. Even in the early days of photography, images were manipulated by the available technology to create a “picture” that reflected the photographer’s vision. From darkroom techniques to digital photography the options have continuously expanded. My photographic work pushes the limits of photography into the world of surreal digital art and I often receive questions of “How did you do that?” and “Is that a photograph?” This article will highlight some of the visioning and techniques I used to create a surreal work of art, “Solstacia II” (above), from a camera image.

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