St. Mary's Art and Retreat Center | Photography Darkroom
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Photography Darkroom

The St. Mary’s Art Center Darkroom

The darkroom at St. Mary’s Art Center has a rich and somewhat varied history. Oliver Gagliani, a close associate of Ansel Adams, built the darkroom in 1975. He and Paul Caponigro were the first photographers to teach at the Art Center in the early 1970’s. Oliver taught summer workshops until the late 1980’s. Steve Kiser, an instructor for Oliver’s Zone System and Master workshops, then kept the tradition going with several summer workshops and field trips. Saelon Renkes, a well-known photographic artist and hand colorist, who had been photographing for many years throughout the U.S. and Mexico, later joined Steve. Erik Lauitzen, who had helped Oliver build the darkroom in 1975 and had assisted him with workshops in 1974 and 1975, formed a limited partnership in 1995 with local gallery owner and photographer Nolan Preece called Sun Mountain Photography Workshops. Steve, Saelon, Erik and Nolan filled the summer photography workshop quota until 2003 when the workshop industry started to decline. More recently, as of 2013, photographic workshops have started again.
SMAC-Main-Darkroom-2-ORIGINAL
Original darkroom at St Mary’s Art Center – Photograph by Nolan Preece
The current darkroom at St. Mary’s Art Center is the film processing room that was built by Oliver Gagliani in 1975. It has the same sink line that can be used for film processing and it has four photographic enlargers that can be used for printing. It is fully equipped with safe lights, easels, timers, trays, beakers, paper safes and a Jobo processor.

SMAC-Film-Room-(current)
Current darkroom at St Mary’s Art Center – Photograph by Nolan Preece

darkroom clock
photograph by Frances Melhop