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Time stops, for a limited time

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Steven Boothe greeted me with a jubilant high-five as I entered the Compact Gallery early one morning to chat about his first art show, “More Than Watching.” The cheerful artist, who tucks his pants into his boots and describes his work as “digital painting,” created his latest piece by snapping a series of random shots with his Panasonic digital camera and assembling them by timestamp, bisecting the teeny Compact Gallery with a wall of delirious color.

The images are, as he says, “split-second glances,” taken on Oct. 13, Nov. 3, and Nov. 13. While Boothe relies on a camera to create his art, he said, “I am not so much a photographer as I am an artist who sees art as a means of practicing how to create beauty and express love.” The camera “works as an extension of my hand … used to manually scavenge colors and forms as I found them.”

In organizing the photos chronologically, rather than aesthetically, the artist relinquished control of the work’s final outcome. “You would have been chicken” to deliberately arrange the photos in such a way, commented gallery owner Jeff Jamieson, who helped Boothe set up the exhibit—a 22-hour process.

Part of the fun of “More Than Watching” lies in how any given row of pictures might have been taken within a span of a few minutes, and you can tell by looking at the backs of the photos. “This top row is 10 minutes of time,” Boothe said by way of example. He pointed to another: “This row is seven minutes.”

Jamieson said the show was about “stopping time;” Boothe added that “More Than Watching” is about making beauty with whatever he can find along the way. For a busy guy like Boothe—family man and full-time computer technician at Cuesta College—sometimes the only chance to create art is on the go, making the world stop for a moment between origin and destination.

Speaking of only chances, you’ll have to be quick to catch this show before it’s gone; “More Than Watching” hangs Thursday, Dec. 23, closes for the holidays, and opens again Saturday, Jan. 1. The Compact Gallery is at 1166 Higuera St. in SLO and online at compact
gallery.net.

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