Longtime Chandler benefactor’s photos on display - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Longtime Chandler benefactor’s photos on display

March 1st, 2022 development
Longtime Chandler benefactor’s photos on display

By Srianthi Perera, Contributor

Chandler resident Robert J.C. Rice, whose name is on the city’s latest elementary school, is known for his volunteerism but not so much for his photography.

Until now.

Rice exhibits his work in a show titled “Essence of a Photographer—Fifty Years of Images by Robert Rice” through March 19 at Art Intersection, 207 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert.

Six bodies of work are shown, comprising more than 100 pieces, mostly monochrome.

“This represents 50 years of taking pictures and trying to find something that is meaningful and that meant something to me and hopefully meant something to someone else,” Rice said.

His creativity can be seen in the diverse range of images – from simple daily life to beautiful, striking landscapes as well as portraits commemorating personal events and relationships.

“Roberts’ photography shows us not only his imagination and heart, but the successful transition between the abstract and reality,” said Alan Fitzgerald, owner of Art Intersection.

Rice expresses his life’s journey with his work on show.

“From the memorialized images of Roz, his close college friend, to his heartfelt poetry from Alone After Midnight, then his majestic portfolio, The Field, about the cycle of life, and enticing collections of travel and landscape photographs, and finally, his Opus 99 portfolio of still life, architecture, and landscape images, we feel Robert in every stage and chapter” wrote Fitzgerald.

Rice, who has lived in Chandler since 1980, was a U.S. Air Force officer and a senior manager of manufacturing at Intel.

He has been an active volunteer: at the board of the Chandler Unified School District and the Valley of the Sun YMCA, at the Rotary Club and Read on Chandler, among others.

In 2020, Chandler Unified School District’s Robert J. C. Rice Elementary was named for him – an honor he called “very humbling.” He also served on the school board for 16 years and developed long-range plans and goals that helped transform the district.

Rice grew up in Jackson, Ohio and has dabbled in photography since high school. He used a Polaroid Swinger camera at first and bought a more sophisticated one when in college.

In the mid-1970s, he moved to Arizona and set up a dark room in his walk-in closet at home. He moved to Chandler to work for Intel, which he did for 23 years.

There wasn’t too much time for photography during that period, but after retirement in 2001, he took it up again extensively. He also traveled, and the color photographs in the show were taken during trips in Iceland, Morocco, Italy and Ireland, among other countries.

“Mainly, I like to photograph the things that are of interesting design, still life that has a nice kind of elegant design or flow to it,” he said.

One particular horizontal image of a piazza in Venice catches the eye because he captured it in five separate images together. A software program helped stitch them together, align digitally and balance the final version.

“It is a 180-degree picture. Optically, it does not look quite like that, but that’s what it is,” he said, adding “A few pictures come out of the camera that are just perfect. Any photographer is going to do something to enhance or highlight the area they want to.”

Is there a reason why he stuck so long with photography?

“It’s just one of the things that resonate with me from a creative end,” he said. “I like to look at pictures and when I make one, I like to make one that I really like and that gives me happiness and if someone else likes it too, that’s even better.”

Fitzgerald, who has known Rice for more than a decade, said, “His work is very unique. He has good eye for composition, and beyond the composition, his technical ability in his printing is absolutely superb. It is a characteristic that’s hard to fine-tune and all good photographers have this ability to see, to capture an image and then print it. I’m surprised his work is not further out in the world.”

Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier Bresson, Edward Weston, and Michael Kenna influenced Rice’s photography. He studied with Ansel Adams in the mid-1970s in Yosemite and Tom Mallonee in the early 2000s.

Rice surrounds himself in photographic works from acknowledged masters in the field to unknown, energetic, early career photographers.

Characteristically, any proceeds that he earns from the current show are to be donated to the Chandler-Gilbert YMCA.

Information: artintersection.com