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Aline Smithson, PIE facilitator and editor of Lenscratch, conducts a print review.

The Conscious Cure for the Common Photography Event

PIE = Photography + Ideas + Experience.
An Artistic Development Retreat for Photographers & All Artists.

Registration for our renowned PIE Labs weekend of workshops will open July 25, so now is the time to make your plans. Each year CPA presents a long weekend of six fabulous workshops that gives artists an opportunity to explore and develop their skills. Space is limited, so register early!

Space is still available! 

Why PIE?

In an age filled with fascinating advances in photography, the Center for Photographic Art still credits the artist—not technology—for making art. CPA is here to support artists whose interest and intent is in producing a creative and authentic expression of a meaningful idea. Now in its fifth year, PIE Labs is a pioneering program that focuses on learning to tap into the creative energy necessary for making art—that wellspring of human expression rarely explored in photography circles, yet highly valued for its intrepid results. PIE Labs is designed for artists who see the camera as a tool that enables them to discover and express themselves in the deepest way and to share life with others—whether it’s life from your point of view or your personal life story. Technology may be changing the medium, but photography is still about the story and the ideas we’re compelled to express.

Photography’s rapidly shifting evolution may invite endless experimentation, yet the very definition of fine art photography is subject to debate. At CPA we view fine art photography as 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 process or medium that gives the idea form; and third, relationships—the human connections through which your art is ultimately shared and seen. You can continue to refine your craft for years and develop your connections as long as you’re active, but the true essence of your art comes from your personal ideas and point of view.

At the PIE Labs, we will give you an opportunity to explore all these important avenues. We’ll face the nature of authenticity, uncover what shape it might take, and consider the significance of the best way to share it with a greater audience. PIE Labs provides a setting for all artists to convene and converse on the issues so central to the development and advancement of their work and growth as artists.

PIE Schedule:

Friday, October 5

Registration, Coffee & Conversation
8:00 – 8:30am (CPA Gallery)

Welcome & Orientation
8:30 – 9:00am (Carpenter Hall)

PIE Lab 1: Jerry Takigawa Life is Art
9:00am – 12:30pm (Carpenter Hall)
Photography like writing, is about storytelling. The camera, like the pen, is simply another tool of self-expression. If you don’t have something to say, your images will reflect that. Our stories expand or shrink in proportion to our courage. And our courage is supported by our capacity to be vulnerable. Using my own journey as a roadmap, we’ll follow the arc of self-discovery and engage in activities designed to focus on self, self-expression and the hurdles on the path to authenticity.

Catered Buffet Lunch & Pie
12:30 – 1:30pm

PIE Lab 2: Patricia Ross Getting Out of Your Own Way
1:30 – 5:00pm (Carpenter Hall)
There is a creative aspect in all activity, from the mundane of the everyday, whether it be unpacking the groceries or helping your child with homework, to what we would call, by consensus, “art.” It is in freeing the obstacles that inhibit our access to creating from self-knowledge and authenticity that we cannot only discover surprises about who we are, but also communicate to others our common humanity and connect at a deep level. In this Lab, we will discover how unconscious beliefs limit the perception of our options and constrain our expression of what we want to communicate.

Panel Interview Session
5:30 – 6:30pm (Carpenter Hall)
Cydney Payton will lead a panel discussion with Patricia Ross, Bob Sadler, Aline Smithson, Jerry Takigawa, and Kim Weston.

Saturday, October 6

Coffee & Conversation
8:00 – 9:00am (CPA Gallery)

PIE Lab 3: Bob Sadler What do you say after hello?
9:00am – 12:30pm (Carpenter Hall)
What do you say to a venue owner who might decide to exhibit your work? What do you say to people at an opening of your exhibit? What you say to people about your work may be the difference between a sale and no sale, an exhibition or no exhibition, and strong support or no support. This Lab is designed to focus on building clear, authentic, and compelling communication. We’ll work on your story as an artist and the significance of your art. We’ll practice talking in ways that build stronger relationships and support.

Catered Buffet Lunch & Pie
12:30 – 1:30pm

PIE Lab 4: Cydney Payton Art is a Collaborative Process
1:30 – 5:00pm (Carpenter Hall)
The era of thinking that artists are autonomous is long dead. Artists today are collaborators. Whether making artwork that is socially engaged, site specific or hung on white walls, the process of creation and presentation requires a network of systems. Those systems or creative channels operate from artist to artist, artist to curator, curator to public. This workshop explores the history and nature of collaboration: how collaboration can generate ideas, new ways of seeing and presenting. Following a talk on the history of collaboration in art and curation, artists will work in teams to make and present an Exquisite Corpse.

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

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

Sunday, October 7

Coffee & Conversation
8:00 – 9:00am (CPA Gallery)

PIE Lab 5: Aline Smithson Creating a Photography Project
9:00am – 12:30pm (Carpenter Hall)
Today, the fine art photography world is looking for more than beautifully, well crafted images. Curators, gallerists and editors are looking for photographs created with intention and/or work focused around an idea, concept, or process. In addition, they are looking for photographers who can not only articulate their images, but interpret the world with intelligence and thoughtful analysis, whether it is work made close to home or in regions undiscovered. Join Aline Smithson for a workshop designed to help you create focused and meaningful projects. You will be exposed to genres of contemporary photography comprised of projects created around ideas and personal stories.

PIE Lab 6: Kim Weston Wildcat Hill Field Trip
2:00 – 5:30pm (Off-site)
This exciting PIE Lab takes us off-site and affords us the rare privilege of visiting one of the most sacred places 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 four generations of masterful Weston blackand- whitephotography, as well as inspiring advice on leading a creative life as a contemporary photographer over refreshments and hors d’oeuvres in his historic home.

 PIE Facilitators:

Cydney Payton, former Director and Chief Curator for the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA DENVER), has curated and organized numerous exhibitions such as Over One Billion Served: New Conceptual Photography from the People’s Republic of China, the first American exhibition of such works, and solo projects for photographers Anthony Giocolea, Jane Hammond, and Collier Schorr, to name a few. Her work and/or exhibitions have been noted in publications such as Artforum, Frieze, Art in America, The New York Times, W, and The Wall Street Journal. She has written on art, experimental architecture and landscape, as well as numerous essays for artist publications and catalogues. (cydneypayton.com)


Patricia Ross is a psychotherapist in private practice in San Francisco. Her background is in music, but she became interested in photography when she attended her first Friends of Photography workshop in 1977. She also assisted at the Ansel Adams Yosemite workshops in 1978 and 1979. In 1980, she returned to Italy, where she had lived for twelve years. During this period an exhibition of her Polaroid SX-70 manipulated images was held at the Il Diaframma in Milan. She returned to the United States to teach piano and photography on the Monterey Peninsula, later deciding to attend graduate school. She developed an interest in unconscious motivation, the creative process, and self- knowledge, and went on to earn her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. (patriciarossmft.com)




Bob Sadler has led workshops around the world since 1975—as an artist, a neighborhood organizer, and an executive coach—always focused on fostering authentic oral communication. He helps people speak in a way that builds strong relationships and support. Artistically, he is best known for his photographic exhibition, Inherent Worth and Dignity, that breaks the stereotype of “homeless” men. It has been shown in many venues over the past four years, including Art Intersection and the Weston Gallery in Carmel. He has shown similar projects documenting life in Vietnam and China and is currently working on a project with DACA students. (lightmoment.com)




Aline Smithson
is a photographic artist, educator, and the founder of the acclaimed daily blog, Lenscratch. She curates and juries exhibitions for a number of galleries, organizations, and online magazines and is a reviewer and workshop instructor at photo festivals across the United States. She is the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award by CENTER, and for her contributions to the photographic community she received the Rising Star Award from the Griffin Museum of Photography. Her work is in numerous public collections and has been featured in respected publications. In 2015, she released a retrospective monograph, Self and Others, published by the Magenta Foundation. Aline lives and works in Los Angeles. (alinesmithson.com; lenscratch.com)



Jerry Takigawa is an independent photographer, designer, and writer. A recipient of the 1982 Imogen Cunningham Award, the 2017 Clarence John Laughlin Award, and the 2018 Curator’s Choice Award, his work is in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Crocker Art Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, and the Monterey Museum of Art. A post-war, Japanese American upbringing proved to be the foundation for his integrated east/west viewpoint—finding expression through his art and allowing him to uncover his own identity. (takigawaphoto.com)




Kim Weston
was born into one of the most influential and creative families in American photographic 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. (kimweston.com)




 Art and Paradox

…our real selves are vastly more interesting than the pretend selves we adopt for others’ consumption. —Roger Scruton

As technology makes the craft of photography easier to manage, the number of technically competent photographers keeps increasing. Many artists who have been photographing for a long time are beginning to look for something more meaningful and fulfilling in their creative lives. In this new environment, we begin to question the significance of the lives we’ve been living and the art we’ve been making.

At our most authentic, who we are as a person and who we are as an artist are one and the same. Accordingly, there is little difference between personal growth and artistic growth. We can spend much of our lives behind façades in order to protect our true selves and fit in. But the value and power of authenticity is demonstrated by the difficultly it takes to achieve.

We might wear masks to find acceptance and belonging, but true belonging is predicated on being our true selves. When we accept the risk to present our real and imperfect selves to the world, we can access a deep spiritual connection that is inherent in all humans but is too often and too easily forgotten. The common link between making authentic art and finding this connection is vulnerability. In artistic expression, the more personal we get, the more universal our message becomes. Herein lies the paradox: your most compelling asset is often the one you’re afraid to use.

We live in an age of alternative facts, and perhaps the most powerful remaining residue of truth is you, the artist. PIE Labs is an invitation to pause doubt and embrace curiosity—the curiosity to bring forth the engaging ideas and stories that lay hidden within you.

Jerry Takigawa
PIE Labs Founder