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“Noctilucent: Night Photos by John Vias” Solo Exhibition at Stanford

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Partial installation view of Noctilucent exhibition at Stanford Art SpacesUPDATE: This exhibition has been extended through February 2015, so go check it out.

If you’ve been following my exhibitions over the last decade, you know that I’ve shown in San Francisco and the East Bay many times. Well, I’m branching out! Peninsula residents now have an opportunity to see almost 20 of my prints at Stanford University. This show is curated by arts critic and writer DeWitt Cheng, who has written about visual art for many publications.

Here is what DeWitt, who curates Stanford Art Spaces, has to say about this solo exhibition and about my work:

Stanford Art Spaces is pleased to announce “Noctilucent,” an exhibition of Berkeley photographer John Vias’s elegant color images depicting silent, deserted East Bay locales at night. The show, at Stanford’s Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS), 30 Alta Road, Stanford, continues until December 1, 2014.

John Vias walks by night, literally, exploring his Ocean View neighborhood after dark with a digital SLR (in the past a medium-format film camera), a tripod, and no photographic lights. Paradoxically, these images shot in near-darkness often seem radiant—noctilucent (shining or luminous at night).

The satisfying compositions and saturated color from long exposures—matters of informed guesswork and fallback bracketing—in pieces like Large Boat Winch, Wall and Hedge, Fairy Tale Benches, Tracks in Field, Shiny Door, and Bench and Poles are theatrical and romantic despite the apparent human absence. Vias: “Night brings on a curfew, emptying streets and sidewalks. The even sunlight of the day gives way to dramatic pools of light, creating impromptu stages where the actors never arrive… Time is compressed, movement is frozen. What’s left is stillness and quiet…” and an “other-worldly quality. The scenes are familiar, yet strange.”

Vias’s works reveal the mysterious beauty of buildings, park benches, piers, cranes, wires, streetlight poles, and greenery when the eye and brain of the photographer—and the viewer—have become receptive, slowed, if not stilled—and abstract qualities of shape, form and presence replace the functional, utilitarian ways we see (or don’t see, really) by day. Simple shapes predominate in these strongly abstract compositions, with occasional touches of humor. A book of Vias’s photos, Good Night, Ocean View, is available from the artist’s website,, as are archival prints in several sizes.

Stanford Art Spaces is an exhibition program serving the Paul G. Allen Building, housing the Center for Integrated Systems, the program’s longtime sponsor, and the David W. Packard Electrical Engineering Building, with smaller venues located throughout campus. IRiSS is located at 30 Alta Road, off Junipero Serra Boulevard, adjacent to Stanford Golf Course. All venues are open during normal weekday business hours. For further information, or to arrange a tour, please contact curator DeWitt Cheng at 650-725-3622 or dewittc [at]

East Bay Open Studios 2013

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For the 10th year, I’ll participate in Pro Arts’ East Bay Open Studios. I’ll have some new prints and old favorites, plus my book of night photography.

Again this year, I’ll join around 40 other artists in Jack London Square’s Pavilion (the former Barnes & Noble bookstore space). Plus, there will be at least two dozen more artists in Market Hall nearby. Lots to see. So please stop by this weekend or next between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. and say hello. If my work moves you, inspires you, or delights your senses in any way, please take some home.

East Bay Open Studios is produced by Pro Arts, an Oakland-based nonprofit that supports the arts within communities by serving the ongoing needs of artists. Open Studios connects the public with over 400 regional artists and is accompanied by the Directory of East Bay Arts. More information and online gallery at

“Spring Forward with Art” Group Show

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Five artists—Deb Sibony, Elaine Gerber, Kathleen King, Ellen Markoff, and I—will host a one-weekend show, March 24 and 25, at Studio 1509 (Deb’s studio) in Berkeley, on San Pablo Ave. at Cedar St. Besides my award-winning night photography prints and my book, there will be prints, paintings, sculpture, jewelry, and much, much more.

On Thursday, March 22, we’ll host a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. We’ll have food and wine and fun, so come out and join in!

Exhibit and Reception at Domain

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My work has been chosen by a trio of Bay Area art consultants for a three-month exhibition at Domain, a luxury apartment building at 1389 Jefferson St. (at 14th St.) in Downtown Oakland. The exhibit runs through January 22, 2012. Join me for a reception on Thursday evening, December 15, 5–8 p.m. There will be food and drink and merriment. Come out and meet other art lovers, and be sure to say hello.

Excellent Use of Government Funds

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I must say, Alameda County has extraordinary taste in art. For the second time, my work was chosen from a slew of work submitted.

Already, you can experience a huge 32″×40″ print of Overpass 1 in the county recorder’s office in Oakland. This time around, two pieces, Tracks in Field and Silos, were chosen from among 2,300 pieces submitted for consideration. Hmm, does that make me a one-in-a-thousand artist?

Anyway, thank you, selection panel! And congratulations to the other 31 artists whose work was chosen.

University of San Francisco School of Law Rotunda Gallery Exhibition

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USF Rotunda Gallery exhibit of night photography by John ViasI’m pleased to have seven of my night photos on display through May 24 in USF’s School of Law Rotunda Gallery, 2130 Fulton St. (at Parker St.), third floor, in San Francisco. The show was curated by independent art consultant Saiko Matsumaru. Here’s an excerpt from her write-up about my work:

Most of the work here is captured using the strong, direct light of streetlamps, creating images that are precise and architectural. This is not to say that these photos aren’t beautiful—they are, with their saturated colors, careful composition, and sharp detail—it’s just that we see a world that is very ordinary and very alien at the same time. A constructed world, built by people but from which the people—and seemingly only the people—have been extracted. . . .

The dreamlike images of Triplet Tanks and Blue Wall, captured with exacting precision by Vias, are bathed in a clear, cool light, imparting a feeling of otherworldliness; we almost get the sense that these scenes could be somewhere on a moon of Jupiter. Yet this photography is very much about this world. About the world that surrounds us—quietly, stilly, beautifully—waiting for those with both the patience to slow down and look for it and the skill and artistry to capture it.

The gallery is open to the public Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Night Photography at SF Open Studios at Fort Mason

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For the fifth year running, I’ll be participating in Studio Nocturne, an exhibition by 10 night photographers that’s part of San Francisco Open Studios. I’ll be showing some new work as well as old favorites.

This year, for the first time, we’ll be on the ground floor of Building D, where we’ll have a lot more room. Also, Charity Vargas will be joining us for the first time. Among other work, she photographs the UC Berkeley campus at night. Hours are 11 a.m.–6 p.m. There will be lots of other artists exhibiting at Fort Mason Center, and it’s always a fun show with lots to see, so come on out this weekend!

You can learn more about the artists, get links to their websites, see example images, and get more details of the event at the Studio Nocturne 2009 website.

Night Photography During SF Open Studios at Fort Mason

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Both sides of postcard for Studio Nocturne 2008, part of San Francisco Open StudiosI’m again pleased to be included in this year’s Studio Nocturne, an exhibition of work by 10 night photographers that’s part of San Francisco Open Studios this weekend. I’ll be showing some new work as well as old favorites.

Click the postcard image for details. Also, you can read bios of all the artists, get links to their websites, see example images, and get more details of the event at the Studio Nocturne 2008 page on the Nocturnes website.

Come to Building “A” at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, where dozens of other artists also will be exhibiting. Hours are 11 a.m.–6 p.m. It’s always a fun show with lots to see, so come on out and say hello!