Abstract Southwest - Photos by John Villinski
    home > about John

The desert can take time to appreciate, especially after being surrounded by greenery all your life, as I did growing up near the Great Lakes. It’s like starting a new relationship. So when I moved to Phoenix on June 13, 1979, just after high school graduation, I did not immediately fall in love. But now, after 24 years in Arizona, I cannot imagine moving back. The views, the canyons, the mountains, the desert, the sunsets; the sheer variety of the Southwestern US boggles my mind. This large-scale beauty is most noticeable first. But it was not until I looked closer, at the subtle aspects, or inner beauty, that the relationship really began to take hold. The Neapolitan-colored sandstone canyons (with a nod to Mr. Abbey) of Sedona were my first introduction into the sublime intricacies of geologic formations. Wind and water act upon rock in ways that are truly spectacular. I felt compelled to record these formations, and hence my love of photography started. Since that first experience, my cameras and I have explored and recorded the intricacies of many more fabulous places in the southwest. The blossoming of my relationship with this land is, I hope, contained in these photographs.

Why Abstract Southwest?
Why Abstract Southwest? Some of my favorite images are of the delicate patterns created in the sandstone formations in the red rock canyon country. I really like images that make people wonder. With these images, people have often asked me “what is that?” or “how big is that?”

I have had a an interest in nature and the environment since my first camping trips up in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson in the early 1980s. Not knowing what I wanted to do in life, I left the University of Arizona in 1984, and spent the next 5 years at various jobs and traveling around the state of Arizona and the United States. I bought my first camera in 1984, and I was hooked. After five years I realized that I was not satisfied with my lack of career, and decided to return to college to get a degree. Of course, I never thought of art as a way of making a living, so I decided to do something related to the environment and enrolled in the Hydrology department.

I was very taken with photography, working with B&W film, but I could not develop my own film or make my own prints. So I decided to take a beginning photography course at the University. I had a great teacher, a Masters student named Dudley, and not only did we learn about basic techniques, but Dudley also encouraged our artistic aspects. Soon after that class, I bought my first enlarger and went about converting my bathroom into a darkroom. Since those humble beginnings, I have moved on to equipment that allows me greater flexibilities and control over the final product. As I continued my education in Hydrology at the University, I continued my photography education by spending weeks in the outdoors travelling, and endless hours in my darkroom, which soon became a dedicated 10x10 room in my house.

I realized along the way that B&W was not always the best medium for the images I wanted to capture, and I delved into the realm of color photography in the middle 1990s. I know of some photographers that see only in B&W or color, or have a hard time switching back and forth between the two. I do not seem to have the problem, and I feel I have been blessed with the ability to go either way. Of course, since I still print my B&W in a traditional darkroom, that means that I get to carry around extra equipment so I can be prepared!

I did finish my PhD in Hydrology, with an emphasis in environmental chemistry. I was even involved with oxidation-reduction reactions, and as most photographers (film at least) can tell you, the redox reactions are the basis of how we create images. My training gave me a greater appreciation for the history of my profession. After completing that ordeal, I continued on for a time in the laboratory, and even got a few papers published that maybe a few dozen people will read! But alas, I was not happy, and with a bit of help from my good friends Chris, Amy and Matt, I struck out in 2002 and started showing my work to friends and family. I showed my work at art fairs and galleries around the Southwest from 2005 to 2007. I have sinced taken a job with an enviromental consulting firm. I now mainly show my art through various gallery shows and on the web. I hope you enjoy viewing my work as much as I have creating it!



Gallery Representation:
Contents Interiors - 2009 - present
Central Arts Gallery, Tucson AZ, 2008 - present
Old Town Pot Shop and Gallery, Tucson AZ, 2007-present
Manos Gallery, Tubac AZ, 2007-2008
Gallery M, Palm Springs, CA 2006
Hudgens Gallery of Fine Art, Flagstaff AZ, 2006-2007

Solo Exhibits:
Details, Tooley’s on Congress, March – May, 2009
Details to the Big Picture, Mayo Clinic Humanities in Medicine (2007-2008, Scottsdale, AZ)

Group Exhibits:
Time, Herberger Theatre Art Center, Phoenix, AZ, 2009
Real Stories, Central Arts Gallery, Tucson, AZ, 2009
101 Heads, Dinnerware Gallery, Tucson, AZ, 2009
Erotic Stimulus Package, Central Arts Gallery, Tucson, AZ, 2009
Group Show, Contents Interiors, Tucson, AZ, 2009
The Same Story, Central Arts Gallery, Tucson, AZ, 2009
Prickly Portraits, Tohono Chul Gallery, Tucson, AZ, 2009
Spirit Journey, Central Arts Gallery, Tucson, AZ, 2009
Art That Tells A Story, Blue Raven Gallery, Tucson, 2008 – 2009
Celebration of Line, Central Arts Gallery, Tucson, AZ, 2008 – 2009
In Process, El Ojito Springs Gallery, Tucson, AZ, 2008
Go Boldly, Central Arts Gallery, Tucson, AZ, 2008
Flora and Fauna, Tempe Cultural Center, Tempe, AZ, 2008
Basically Simple, Central Arts Gallery, Tucson, AZ, 2008
Acts of Self Confrontation, Central Arts Gallery, Tucson, AZ, 2008
Splash, Central Arts Gallery, Tucson, AZ, 2008
Blackout Art, Phase 54, Tempe AZ, 2007
A World Of Photography, Australia, 2006-2007
Three artist show, Gallery M, Palm Springs, CA, 2006
Multiple Artist Show, Bentley's, Tucson AZ, 2004
On Our Own Time, The University of Arizona, 2004
On Our Own Time, The University of Arizona, 2003

Featured Photographer: ArtWalk, San Diego, 2008
1st Place Photography: Southwest Arts Festival, Indio, CA, 2008
Honorable Mention: Festival of The Arts, Studio City, CA 2006
Honorable Mention: Desert Oregionalty, Tucson, 2006

Photos Published:
Signs of Life, Facere, Seattle, WA, 2007 (cover and inside)
Desert Oregionalty, TNI Publishers, Tucson, 2006
Hiking Northern Arizona, Desert West Publishing, 1994
Hiking Central Arizona, Desert West Publishing, 1994
Hiking Southern Arizona, Desert West Publishing, 1994

Copyright Statement
All photography and text appearing on this website are the exclusive property of John Villinski and Abstract Southwest. No images within this website are part of the public domain. All stories and images are protected by copyright laws in the United States and internationally. No story, image, or part thereof may be copied or manipulated in any form, reproduced, or stored in any manner without prior written permission from John Villinski. Copyright John Villinski/Abstract Southwest. All rights reserved. Violators will be prosecuted under the full extent allowed by law.


   ©1991-2008 Abstract Southwest, John Villinski,. All rights reserved.

Site Meter