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September 22, 23, 24
PIE = Photography + Ideas + Experience
An artistic development retreat for all media
Sunset Center, Carmel CA

“The camera for an artist is just another tool. It is no more mechanical than a violin if you analyze it. Beyond the rudiments, it is up to the artist to create art, not the camera.”
Brett Weston

Why PIE?

With all the advantages the internet brings us, more time isn’t often part of the package. Despite technology’s supposed time saving features, for artists it means less time for being present and truly seeing. Often, what is gained with artificial intelligence is lost in human intelligence. We’re referring of course to the skills artists bring to image making: their imagination and ideas. This reminds us of Ansel Adams’ quote: “There’s nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” The PIE Labs focuses on what computers can’t do—the human quest for creativity.

We work diligently making our art, and devote all the time we can gather to practice and explore our ideas. But sometimes staying too long in the trenches can be limiting. It’s good to climb out and experience a 30,000-foot perspective of what we’re actually doing and how it connects us deeply to ourselves and to the world at large. PIE Labs offers an inspiring view—both macro and micro—in a three-day artistic development retreat designed to offer a distinct departure from a typical photography workshop.

Please join us at the 2017 PIE Labs to explore the role you play in making art that is personal, authentic and original. You’ll have many opportunities, as PIE Labs’ facilitator Aline Smithson said last year, “to fine-tune the instrument that is you” and “to know why you’re making your work in a deep way.” In an age of acceleration, nothing is as exhilarating as slowing down. (Inhale) In an age of distraction, nothing is as luxurious as room to be present. (Exhale)

The PIE Labs will help you to discover the essence of what makes great images great and show you how to bring those images to your audience. We draw on four years of experience examining the universal yet mysterious mechanics of the creative process, and we invite you to share our discoveries. Rejuvenate your process, your work, and your creative journey, and enjoy a weekend of insight, inspiration, practical knowledge and imagination (and delicious pie).

2017 PIE Labs Daily Schedule


8:00 – 8:30 am Registration, coffee, and conversation (CPA Gallery)

8:30 – 9:00 am Welcome and orientation (Carpenter Hall)

9:00 – 12:30 pm PIE Lab 1: Jerry Takigawa: Photography is an Inside Job (Carpenter Hall)
When it comes to technique, there will always be someone technically better. That’s why your personal point of view (your inside job, should you choose to accept it) is indispensable. Photography means writing with light. A photograph is an object capable of communicating your story. Jerry will share experiences and activities designed to raise awareness of your source of creativity and how to thrive as an artist. What are the speed bumps? How do you get past them?

12:30 – 1:30 pm Catered Buffet Lunch and Pie (CPA Gallery)

1:30 – 5:00 pm PIE Lab 2: Frank DeLuca: What’s the Story? (Carpenter Hall)
Where does the personal meet the universal? Where does your unique story intersect with Everyone’s story? When the artist has the courage to open to the depths of creativity, the ego becomes a foot soldier of something greater, something authentic. Art is no longer about, “What is my story?” but “What is the story that wants to be told through me?” Using writing exercises and discovery processes in small groups, you will learn about the subconscious messages you are drawn to express.

5:30 – 6:30 pm Panel Interview Session: Inside the Photographer’s Studio (Carpenter Hall)
Frank DeLuca will lead a panel discussion with Kim Weston, Huntington Witherill and Jerry Takigawa.


8:00 – 9:00 am Coffee and conversation (CPA Gallery)

9:00 – 12:30 pm PIE Lab 3: Huntington Witherill: Picture Within a Picture: A Field Trip on Your Desk (Carpenter Hall)
Formulating and then carrying out any potentially successful visual idea represents an act that originates with mindfulness, a prodigious use of the imagination, and the desire to express a personal point of view. Through a series of hands-on visual exercises, we will explore both the motivations for and the reasons behind the choices we make in relation to photographic visualization. We will gain a better understanding of how to produce images possessing greater clarity and overall personal vision.

1:30 – 5:00 pm PIE Lab 4: Sarah Rabkin: Creating the Artist Statement of Your Dreams (Carpenter Hall)
This lab will help you brainstorm and blast-draft your way to a vibrant statement that communicates your creative vision to publishers, gallerists, exhibition jurors and other audiences. After discussing the qualities that photo-world gatekeepers look for in a successful artist statement, we will practice strategies for plunging past writing blocks, generating an abundance of expressive material, and honing an effective final product. You can expect to emerge with a lively draft statement; you will also gain a set of tools that you can use any time to articulate your artistic motivations in authentic, persuasive language.

5:00 – 6:00 pm Informal Pizza and Salad Dinner (Babcock Room)

6:30 – 8:00 pm Pie Labs Public Exhibition (Carpenter Hall)


8:00 – 9:00 am Coffee and conversation (CPA Gallery)

9:00 – 12:30 pm PIE Lab 5: Linda Cano: Getting Your Work Seen (Carpenter Hall)
This PIE segment will offer strategies for presenting your work to museum and gallery professionals, discussing methods for getting your work seen. We will begin with an illustrated overview of photographic images that have rattled art history timelines, and been influential for all who have seen them. Linda will then review several portfolios from participants in the class, discussing various strategies for successful presentation and how best to approach professionals for exhibitions and publications.

2:00 – 5:30 pm PIE Lab 6: Kim Weston: Wildcat Hill Field Trip
This exciting PIE lab takes us off site and affords us the rare privilege of visiting one of the most sacred homes in the history of American photography: a trip to Edward Weston’s hand built cabin on Wildcat Hill. World renowned photographer, Kim Weston, will lead an enlightening tour of his grandfather’s home and original darkroom. Kim will present an overview of his own accomplished black-and-white photography, as well as inspiring advice on leading a creative life as a contemporary photographer. Kim will treat us to refreshments and hors d’oeuvres in his historic home.

2017 PIE Labs Facilitators

Frank De Luca, Ph.D., MFT, has been facilitating workshops in personal and professional development since 1978. As a psychotherapist, consultant and coach he has helped hundreds of people uncover and zero in on their unique talents and strengths. Through the use of group processes, the Enneagram personality system and in-depth dialogues, people develop greater access to their authentic selves and find more avenues of self-expression in all of their life pursuits.






Sarah Rabkin is the author and illustrator of What I Learned at Bug Camp: Essays on Finding a Home in the World; her nonfiction and illustrated journals have appeared widely. As a teacher and editor, Sarah helps people pursue their abiding passions. She has taught writing and environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz for 30 years and leads writing and art workshops at field schools and retreat centers. Sarah studied sociology and biology at Harvard, and Science Communication at UCSC. She plays taiko, marimba, and handpan, and lives near Santa Cruz with her husband, poet Charles Atkinson.


Linda Cano has been an arts administrator, curator and educator for over 25 years. Cano was formerly executive director and chief curator at Fresno Art Museum. She is currently executive director at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, where her latest project is one of the largest public art installations in Northern California history. Cano has curated over 45 museum exhibitions, including many photography surveys and retrospectives. From 2011-2013, she was appointed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson to CREATE CALIFORNIA, a task force that developed arts education policy for California schools. Linda’s awards include NEA, IMLS, James Irvine Foundation and California Arts Council Grants, and she has been recognized for innovative community collaborations and contributions to arts and culture.



Jerry Takigawa received a BFA, with an emphasis in painting, from San Francisco State University in 1967. He studied photography under Don Worth. In 1982, he became the first photographer to receive the Imogen Cunningham Award for color work. A post-war Japanese American upbringing was the foundation of his integrated east/west worldview—finding expression through his art and allowing him to uncover his own identity. His work is in numerous public and private collections.







Kim Weston was born into one of the most influential and creative families in American history and has been making fine-art photographs for over 40 years. Kim learned his craft assisting his father, Cole Weston, in the darkroom, and worked for many years assisting his uncle, Brett Weston. Kim lives on Wildcat Hill in the former home of his esteemed grandfather, Edward Weston, where he teaches several internationally acclaimed nude photography workshops each year. In addition to his skills as a teacher, his photographs have been widely collected and exhibited in the US and worldwide.





Huntington Witherill, born in Syracuse, NY, in 1949, began photographing in 1970. During the early 1970s, he studied photography under such notables as Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Steve Crouch, and Al Weber. Witherill’s photographs have been exhibited in more than 100 individual and group exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout the world, and his work has been the subject of three award winning hard-cover monographs titled: Orchestrating Icons, Botanical Dances, and Photo Synthesis. Witherill’s work covers a diverse array of subject matter including classic landscapes, studies of pop-art, botanical subjects, urban architecture, abstracts, and digital imaging.




View From the Inside

When you’re speaking in the truest, most intimate voice about your life, you are speaking with the universal voice. —Cheryl Strayed, writer

Four years ago, the Center for Photographic Art decided to take up one of the most underrated yet challenging issues of making fine art photography: an authentic point of view. We designed the PIE Labs to help artists learn to embrace the “personal” in personal work. How do you make art that only you can make? How do you connect with what is important for you to express? Artists who can communicate something important and personal not only reflect and reinterpret life, they also inform and shape it. They bring our attention to new ways of seeing and understanding. When we see freedom in someone’s work, we become a little more open; when we see intelligence in someone’s work, we become a little smarter; and when we see vulnerability in someone’s work, we become a little more human.


James L. Enyeart, former director of George Eastman House, Center for Creative Photography, and Friends of Photography, after being introduced to the PIE Labs said: “As a concept it is timely and unique… your efforts open a door that far too many do not know how to open educationally—how to stir the pot from the inside out.”

Photography’s rapidly shifting technological evolution invites endless experimentation, while the very definition of fine art photography is subject to debate. We feel fine art photography is comprised of three essential elements: first, the idea—a deep personal exploration or interpretation of some aspect of you, the artist; second, the discipline of craft—the technology or medium that gives the idea form; and third, relationship—the human connections through which your art is ultimately shared and seen. PIE Labs will give you an opportunity to explore all of these avenues. We seek to address the nature of creativity, to discover what is worth creating, and what makes it important. PIE Labs provides a setting for artists to answer these questions so central to the advancement of their work.

—Jerry Takigawa
PIE Labs Co-Founder

PIE Labs 2017 Registration

Space is limited! We encourage early registration to guarantee your place at PIE Labs 2017. Registration fee includes catered buffet lunches by Boardwalk Subs and Wild Thyme Deli, Saturday pizza and salad dinner and, of course, ample slices of pie.

Early registration (extended 5 days to August 30) also qualifies for a $100 discount. Further, CPA members get an additional $100 discount (!) You must be logged in to your account to get this additional discount. Click here to log in or click here to join.

All events and activities are subject to change without notice

“Thank you for providing such a fabulous weekend. I am so honored to be guided by insightful, intelligent and such creative people who did not hold back on “secrets” of the creative process.”
—PIE Labs Participant