Image credit: Jennifer Zwick
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Together We are Brilliant, A Note from Paulo

Together We are Brilliant, A Note from Paulo

As we enter the season of gratitude and giving, I’m excited to take a moment to say hello to our community as the new Development and Outreach Associate here at Photographic Center Northwest. Many of you have been greeted by me during my time working at the front desk at PCNW. Now I’m looking forward to sending my gratitude to you all during my first year-end campaign this December. Like many of you I have a long history with PCNW, and while taking classes years ago discovered how unique and crucial PCNW is to our artistic community at large. Photography has been a vital creative practice for much of my life, and PCNW has helped me explore the depth, importance, history, challenges, and the possibilities that it presents.

I had the privilege of being introduced to the arts at a young age, and nurtured by parents that encouraged me to create. My older two older siblings and father were actively creating some form of art, and I had a strong desire to have the drive and skill I saw in them. That drive came when I picked up a camera. 

Photographs quickly became a way for me to document family events, and whatever else I felt was important in my immediate life. My education in photography persisted throughout my high school and community college years where I learned darkroom processes and photographic history. This was also a time when I started becoming aware of the different parts of my life that made up my identity. I am a second-generation immigrant, I aligned myself with subcultures that deviated from social norms, and I come from a working-class background. All of these aspects of my life started to inform my photographic practice. I was determined to create photographs no matter what setbacks or challenges arose. I had to make photographs. I realized that people started connecting to my work the more honest I was, and that putting myself “out there” allowed me to meet people I otherwise wouldn’t have. This was when I realized that photography was a bigger community beyond what I had initially thought. It is bigger than me. 

All images by Paulo Gonzales

Later in my life, I came across an opportunity to go back to school on the University level, and made the decision to continue to study photography. This was when I was introduced to Photographic Center Northwest. I was in awe that there was a building solely dedicated to photography in the city I had recently moved to. PCNW taught me to expand on my skills and helped me have a better understanding of what I was trying to express visually. I still carry the ethos of my early experiences in photography, but with a sense of greater creative possibilities through my time spent at PCNW.  

Zine by Paulo Gonzales

Moreover, I have witnessed how PCNW is a place for community connection and creative growth. During my time at the front desk I met countless new faces eager to immerse themselves in photography, coming with questions about where to begin. I was excited to tell them all about the many different opportunities we offer—many took advantage of our scholarship program and have since found a new home at PCNW. We believe that arts education should be accessible to all, and our scholarships help cultivate photographic visions and works from artists that normally wouldn’t have a chance to express due to financial constraints.

Image credit: Paulo Gonzales

These opportunities have been possible because of your generosity, and we have been fortunate enough to award $25,000 in scholarships this year to students in need.  

On this Giving Tuesday will you help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 by December 31st to ensure our programming and photographic excellency is accessible to those that need it in 2023? Donations not only fund our scholarships, but help subsidize facilities access, class materials, and free public programs. 

Thank you for being here and considering supporting PCNW this season. I can’t wait to say hello the next time you’re at the Center. 

With appreciation, 

Paulo Gonzales

Outreach & Development Associate

PCNW’s 2022 Holiday Gift Guide

Give the gift of photography!

Photographic Center Northwest is offering something for everyone this holiday season. Whether it’s a print for your collection, a book to engage with, or a new skill to learn, PCNW is proud to bring our photographic excellency to you or someone in your life.


Suburbia Mexicana, by Alejandro Cartagena


Shop the PCNW book store! Staff recommendations include Rock & Roll, by Jini Dellaccio; Suburbia Mexicana by Alejandro Cartagena; Snowbound, by Lisa Robinson and A Brave New Normal – Photographic Zine.
Detail of Jenny Riffle’s limited edition print, Smoke, Break, 2011


By shopping our selection of limited edition prints, you will be supporting both PCNW and the artist. Staff favorites include Jenny Riffle, Smoke BreakSeth Thompson, Magenta Room, Tomasa Navarro Puente Home, Alamitos, 2003, Mexico, and Richard Renaldi, Faith, Newark, New Jersey, 2001.


Don’t miss out on snagging some fun PCNW swag this year! We have limited edition tote bags and t-shirts for purchase, the perfect gift for a loved one—or yourself!



Another way to show support is through our memberships! Give the gift of a PCNW Membership or the opportunity to take a class or workshop to someone in your life who is looking for a creative, supportive community. Gift certificates do not expire and can be used on a variety of education offerings, while PCNW Members receive benefits including discounts on education offerings, facilities rentals and gallery purchases; opportunities for professional development and invitations to special member events.

Winter is a great time to dive into a creative practice and PCNW offers many ways to learn and engage with photography, including through our classes and workshops—make sure to check out our free Grant Writing for Artists workshops in partnership with Glazer’s. Also get inspired in our gallery with Rewriting Art History: Works from Kelli Connell, Natalie Krick, and Hanita Schwartz, now on view through December 8th; and save the date for OUTCRY, works by Whitney Bradshaw opening January 12th.

On Collecting with Steve Hoedemaker and Tim Pfeiffer

A deeper look into the art of collecting photography with PCNW community members

Continuing our On Collecting series, Lisa Ahlberg, PCNW alumni and Benefit Committee member, spoke with Steve Hoedemaker and Tim Pfeiffer, business partners at Hoedemaker/Pfeiffer, an architecture and interior design business and Housewright, a home store and gallery.

Interviewer: Lisa Ahlberg

Interviewee: Steve Hoedemaker

Interviewee: Tim Pfeiffer

Lisa: Let’s begin with you telling me about yourselves and your connection to photography and the Photo Center Northwest.

Steve: I grew up in a household where art was an important part of how we understood the world around us, and where service to the art community was important. I’m currently the chair of the Henry Art Museum, and formerly the president of the PCNW board. My husband and I are avid amateur collectors.

Tim: I have played designer on many fronts. I curate the collections that we put together for Housewright, our home store and gallery, and better, have had the really nice opportunity to curate family collections for many of our clients. I too am a life long amateur collector. I have co-chaired the PCNW benefit auction a couple times and our firm is once again sponsoring the event with a table of guests.

I grew up in household that valued the stories found in work that hung on the wall. Whether that was a painting by a great grandmother, or old family portraits from our early history in the Northwest, I was super intrigued in the arts from a really young age and graduated in studio arts at the UW. I first studied architecture but also painted, sculpted, and took three years of photography. I went on to be more of a collector than a producer. Collecting work is like putting the bed cover on your bed, instead of sleeping under a sheet.

Tim and Jackpot (Tim’s Dog)

Lisa: You both create beautiful living spaces. Can you tell me what role art plays in a living space?

Steve: There’s a question that I like to ask myself and we often ask our clients: What stories do you want to tell yourself about who you are and what stories do you want to tell the world about who you are? The way you put together your living space, and especially your artwork, tells a big story to you and to the world around you about who you are and how you see the world.

Tim: We so often take a home, build a beautiful space, create these environments that are specific to ways of living within them. Then we start to layer in. The furniture is a piece of that certainly. Anybody could sit down and see a blank wall or see a television sitting on a wall. But art offers another dimension. You don’t need to have a moving screen to have a story being told in front of you. I think that’s so often what I find in any piece of art, whether that’s three dimensional sculpture, a beautiful photograph or a painting or wall relief. There’s a story that’s unfolding for you as you study it and really begin to see it. The work is always evocative of something. It brings memory, it brings new experience. It sets a time and place. I think it’s that final layer that makes a home a home and not just a beautiful house.

Lisa: Who has influenced you as a collector?

Tim: I’ve told this story before in different ways. The key influencer in my life was my grandmother, who was a major collector though a bit of a hoarder. At the same time, she was a woman who had come out of another era, a pre-depression era, where she had lived in a huge house with all kinds of gorgeous things that were connected to family. She treasured “the intrinsic nature of things.” This included a hallway of portraits because that was just the era. You didn’t have photographs necessarily, but you had some beautiful family portraits that had been painted over time.

When I was a little kid, she would take me around her very cramped, smaller home that she lived in then, where everything had come from this big other life. She would tell me what was important. She’d say, “This is a Serapi rug. Look at the patterns here. Then she’d take me into the little library zone. “These are first edition books.” When I looked at them, I could see what was important is that it was the first time I really saw them and oftentimes they had the original covers. She would show me every little kind of funny detail; ways of looking at everyday things such as silver. How to tell the marks on English silver versus American sterling? All the ways of finding out where china came from. I was a kid that just soaked it up and was constantly kind of the treasure hunter with her. Every single piece would have a story within. When I would find something and pick it up, she’d tell me a little tale about it. It was always about the things that man had made somewhere, somehow. That was usually within the realm of the decorative arts and that’s what got me going as a 10 year old.

Lisa: What advice would you give to somebody who’s starting an art collection or starting to buy art?

Steve: There is some wisdom that I have not myself adhered too much, but that I appreciate: Always collect the best possible piece you can from an artist or the best piece from a show or collection of an artist. I think there’s a lot of merit in that and particularly when you think about the potential future economics of well collected pieces.

I think the thing that has resonated for me is finding pieces that I can have a personal conversation with. That conversation is something that’s abstract enough that it can change and evolve over time so that a piece that may have meant one thing to me at a certain time can mean something else at a different point in the future.

Tim: I think work needs to speak to you. If you’re just getting going and you really don’t know where to look, start with Museum shows and gallery openings. there’s always going to be opportunities to study what is seen as collectible work. I believe you have to see something and desire it. There’s got to be a desire, a connection within you to live with that piece, to really feel as though you would want to live with it and love it. I have collected pieces here and there that I no longer have on the wall but are now in storage. But there’s nothing that I regret ever picking up — whether it was an inexpensive or expensive piece that spoke to me at the time.

I love walking around my house looking at each piece. Each tells a story, not just of the artist, and their intention but a reminder of the place and time where I acquired it or how it came home with me.

Tim: I think one of the best things anyone can do is take a picture immediately when you see something that captures your eye. Then walk away from it. Study. This can happen at art fairs or galleries or openings. Step away from it long enough to consider it. Consider it small in your hand and then imagine living with it in life scale. I think that’s always a really important thing to be able to do. At auctions, preview the work if you can.

Lisa Ahlberg: Do you buy much art online?

Tim: We look online when creating presentations for our clients. We do buy online and it’s a pretty deep dive into each one of those pieces. We use imagery that is available and then we’ll ask for further details and contextual imagery. I think those close detailed shots help to understand more clearly what it is that you’re looking at and how it’s been either layered or constructed. I think that’s always important. I’m not afraid of online art buying.

Tim: We have had a great focus at Housewright Gallery on Northwest Art, in particular Northwest School art. We’re having our first show of an East Coast artist, Alfredo Paredes with a collection debut and opening reception on October 13th from 5 pm – 7 pm.

Lisa: I loved the recent exhibit. Housewright is a dangerously tempting place to go in and I should let our readers know that it’s a beautiful curated store in addition to a gallery. I always appreciate the photography books you carry.

Is there an emphasis to what you collect personally? Do you collect photography?

Tim: I collect photography and have had an emphasis on painterly paintings. I like moody storytelling photography. I’m not much for just beautiful. I’m always captivated by the narrative within the context of the photograph. What am I seeing in it? It can be beautifully constructed, beautiful lighting, color, black and white. But I love when it actually tells me something, graphically telling a tale. I like mood. So I have a lot of work that is in darker, really deeper tones. I don’t mean dark in energy, it’s more just dark in its construct.

Steve: There was interesting beautiful Pacific Northwest art and photography in my house growing up. That work has continued to resonate for me. I’ve tried to find not only the work of some of those artists, but the other people who were practicing around the same time or who might have been their lovers. Or the work of those artists that was in a medium they didn’t often practice in. It’s just been fun to go back to something that meant something to me as a child and find different manifestations of it as adult.

Tim: I started collecting Northwest School work. There was obviously the iconic top four or five artists and then all of the people that were working in and around them, sometimes including students. I love early work before the artists have fully come to what they were most known for. The Picasso Museum in the middle of Paris is this small museum. It’s like this work is insane. It’s so beautiful, but it’s almost not recognizable. But it’s the purest, simplest forms of what he would later really become famous for.

David Hilliard, 2008 PCNW

Tim: I have a very beautiful early work by Margaret Tompkins, Guy Anderson and Kenneth Callahan. I like paintings by Paul Horiuchi, work he did before collage work that he was best known for. Oftentimes these earlier works are more attainable because they are not seen as the iconic body of work. But some of them were the predecessors to the iconic work. So that’s always really fascinating to me.

I love portraiture too, whether photography or painting. I have some that are incredibly abstract that can be difficult to call portraiture. The earliest one is from 1887. One portrait I have was a gift for my 60th birthday – a portrait of an auburn haired, red mustached Spanish man and was the best painting I ever found. I fell in love with it! It took quite a negotiation to get the family that owned it for generations to release it to me.

But that guy is sitting next to a portrait from Paris. You can barely see form to the face and is a very abstract portrait of a man. They are on one either end of the dining room. I love that whole nature of capture. That’s what I think is so interesting about photography — the figure in photography.

Lisa: You both have attended several PCNW auctions. Can you tell me about some of the photographic work you love that is still with you?

Tim: A favorite is Cindy Sherman, 2014 by Doug Keyes. He had photographed multiple Cindy Sherman’s and layered them together to create this concept of Cindy Sherman. It’s the most beautiful photograph.

I have another beautiful piece by Annabel Clarke that kind of predates the pandemic and homelessness. It’s this young couple in a tent, with a just a few possessions sitting on pallets. They are homeless and yet there’s some joy about the whole situation.

I’m a huge Jenny Riffle fan and I’ve always picked up her work. A favorite is from her Scavenger series of a young man sitting in a room smoking a cigar and counting change in a pot. It’s so magical to me. It’s hanging in my living room. I look at it like every day and every day I find some kind of wonder in it.

I think that’s what collections should do for you – enable you to wander around, look at your pieces, and feel something each time and not just pass it like wallpaper.

Steve: I live with many photographs from PCNW auctions. A few photographs in my collection include the great Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide and Pacific Northwest photographers Eirik Johnson, Jock Sturges, Rafael Soldi and James Lockwood. A favorite photograph comes from my childhood, a photograph by Mary Randlett that belonged to my parents.

Lisa: I loved the Mary Randlett photographic portraits you had alongside the paintings in the last exhibit at Housewright Gallery of the Northwest Influencers.

Housewright Gallery NW Influencer Exhibition

Tim: That was so cool to be able to find as many of those as we did. Those were all gifts to the show. What’s even more remarkable, as I ran across all the books that accompanied the exhibit, every single one of those Northwest School were all inscribed by Mary Randlett, telling the stories of when she photographed those people and how she met them.

Lisa: As we approach the PCNW Benefit Auction can you comment on what role an auction can play in helping to build an art collection?

Steve: I think that Photo Center auction specifically helped me feel like a collector because so much of collecting is just opportunity. You have the chance to be with the art and the artists in the space. It is a big first step in terms of getting you down the path. The worst thing that’s gonna happen is you buy a piece you might not be certain about, but you’re going to support an organization that you care about.

Tim: I think institutional auctions particularly give you a sense that everything has been accepted by the institution as works of quality and integrity. So in many ways the work has already been vetted for you. That is something you can really enjoy at an auction — it’s a very safe place to collect.

On Collecting  With Nancy Edelstein

In continuation with our On Collecting series, Lisa Ahlberg, PCNW alumni and Benefit Committee member spoke with collector and PCNW community member Nancy Edelstein.  

Nancy Edelstein was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and has lived in Seattle for more than 40 years. She received her BFA from the University of Michigan, and enjoyed a career in marketing and design for the fashion industry. Later, she became known for her one of a kind custom books, honoring the lives and accomplishments of others. Recently, Nancy completed a four year MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Studio Practice. She went on to receive a month long artist residency at MASS MoCA last fall, and was invited to return this October to continue her interests there.

Nancy has been connected to the Photographic Center Northwest (PCNW) for several decades, first as a student, taking classes in studio lighting with Claire Garoutte, color printing with Seth Thompson, personal projects seminars with Nancy Levine, and many more. She was a PCNW board member from 2005-2009, and with others, created the first PCNW Auction, which has become an annual event to support the many amazing opportunities it offers. Nancy appreciates the rare gift that the Photocenter is to our community, and supports its continued contribution to our city and beyond.

Nancy’s current installation work can be viewed at: nancyedelstein.com

Lisa: What were the early influences that led you to become a collector?

Nancy: Both of my parents had a passion for style and taste, which fit right in with the minimal modernism of the 60’s. My father’s office was very cool-decorated in Knoll furniture and photorealism imagery. Eventually, this chrome and glass style infiltrated our home, which slowly became filled with contemporary art.

Lisa: What was the experience of your first purchase? 

Nancy: My own first art purchase was in the 80’s- predicated on a wish and a dare. I was trained as a photographer and followed the work of the dynamic photographers of the time. Silver Image Gallery was the only photography gallery in Seattle then, and it was there that I fell in love with a Richard Misrach split tone silver print from his Desert Cantos series- images of cactus at night in the desert. While I never dreamed of owning one, and couldn’t afford it, especially at that time when I was just starting a design and marketing firm, I was so smitten I just decided to ‘go for it’ as an outrageous declaration of my commitment to quality and the success of my business. It took months of payments, but eventually my first treasure came home.

Richard Misrach, Yucca #1, Baja, California, 1976

Lisa: How did your collection develop?

Nancy: My passion for photography fueled the core of my slowly expanding collection. As my business grew, I traveled to New York frequently and became familiar with the photographic work in the museums. The Whitney Biennial was where I was first exposed to work by the Starn Twins, and will never forget their installation of a beautifully distressed, torn and fragmented photographic collage of Jesus, laying full scale, full body, face up flat in a clear plexiglass box. A similarly distressed piece of their work now hangs in my dining room.

Starn Twins, Plant Details #3, 1988

Lisa: Do you believe photography is a good investment?

Nancy: Yes I do, but I have never been motivated to purchase photographs for that reason. I buy something only out of a strong connection to the work itself. While I don’t have much empty wall space any more to add to my collection, I am still moved to acquire that ‘special’ piece when it comes along. At one of the last Photo Center’s annual auctions, I deliberated bidding on a Paul Berger photographic silver print from his earlier series that I had seen and loved for a long time. As an influential teacher at the University of Washington for 35 years, expanding the direction of the medium of photography with his own work, I knew I would like to own one of his smart and beautifully executed images before they were no longer available. Unfortunately, I vacillated at the auction for a minute too long, and it was gone! Luckily, there was a retrospective at G. Gibson Gallery of his work in conjunction with the launching of his Minor Matters Press monograph, and I found something there that I equally loved, and this time didn’t hesitate for a second.

Paul Berger, Mathematics #61, 1976-77  

Lisa: What is your experience of living with art?

Nancy: A calm personal space is important to me, and in my home I resonate with a variety of photographic works that collectively create this mood which always enfolds me. Living with art that I love, whatever it is, is a fantastic gift to myself that I never tire of. My Misrach is still as full of wonder to me now as it was at first sight. 

Lisa: Any advice or favorite practice as a collector you would suggest to others?

Nancy: A habit I developed from the start that has been very useful has been to keep a section on my bookshelf designated specifically for manuals or books related to the pieces or artists hanging on my walls. Often when guests want to know more, these come in handy to give a broader sense of the artist and the work, and to help me remember some of the details myself.

Lisa: What is your vision for your collection in the future?

Nancy:  I am aware of the responsibility of legacy that is inherent in creating any collection. Recently, I inherited some of my parents artwork, which offered the challenge and opportunity of incorporating their non-photographic artwork into my space. While I had collected only photography over the years, integrating some new forms of art has made the visual experience even richer. I now have a full-size cement and bronze sheep named Claude in my entry! All I can say is, if you’re an art lover, don’t hesitate, find a way to bring art that you love into your home and share it with others. 

Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne, Belier (Ram)

On Collecting  with Rafael Soldi and Jerry O’Leary

As we approach PCNW’s Golden Hour Benefit Auction, we talked with some of our supporters about the art they’ve chosen to live with in their homes. Lisa Ahlberg, PCNW alumni and Benefit Committee member spoke with Rafael Soldi and Jerry O’Leary.  

Clockwise from top, Lisa Ahlberg, Rafael Soldi, Jerry O’Leary

Rafael Soldi is a Seattle artist and former PCNW staff member.  

Jerry O’Leary is retired and lives in Tacoma after living in Seattle for over 35 years. He says he has had the great fortune to live in many parts of the world which has spurred his interest and excitement in learning how other people see things and the ways they express their understanding of the world.  

Lisa: Jerry, you mentioned you both have a history of looking at art together, so I thought that would be a good place to start.  

Jerry: I have lived with art for several years. I actually started with an Edward Curtis gold type that my father’s parents bought from Edward Curtis himself. Over the years my taste has expanded but I never had a practiced eye. I was very impulsive. I met Rafael, through the Photo Center Northwest (PCNW) when he was working there. It was just a revelation to me that somebody with art training could communicate to me in a way that allowed me to experience art on a whole deeper level.  

Rafael: It’s been fun to share these experiences with Jerry. We share a lot of tastes, but we also gravitate toward things that are very different sometimes. The fun part is to foster curiosity about why we like certain things, and through those questions find out what those leanings may reveal about ourselves.  

Lisa: Where have you gone to look at art together?  

Jerry: Early on I was given private guided tours of the exhibits at the Photo Center. Later we visited the first Seattle Art Fair together. This experience was extraordinary because of that interaction with Rafael. The ability to be directed to look at things that I might have walked past and able to share my excitement. As he said, there were pieces I was excited about that were not on his radar particularly. But he could help me express why I liked it. It wasn’t important to him whether he liked it or not. It was important that I had the ability to understand why I liked it.  

Rafael: Once we bought the same piece, a photograph by CJ Heyliger titled Dead West, from the Gallery Luisotti booth at the Seattle Art Fair!  

Grouping on left, clockwise from top: Abelardo Morell, Anthony Cudahy, CJ Heyliger, Mary Ann Peters. Right, top to bottom: Victoria Haven, Gonzalo Hernandez. On chair: Marsha Burns. Photo courtesy of Rafael Soldi.

Jerry: Yeah we did. We both tend to rotate our art a fair amount in our houses. Seeing what he’s hung at this moment, how he’s grouped it, saying, “Oh, this is extraordinary. Tell me about  it.” 

Rafael: I love going to Jerry’s house and noticing something new and asking, “Tell me  about that!”  

Lisa: Do you both consider yourselves collectors?  

Jerry: I don’t, because the word collector to me implies a focus that I don’t think I have, other than being focused on what I like. It’s about surrounding myself with things that inspire me. To me, a collector is somebody who really wants to build something additive.  

Rafael: I think of myself as an artist who loves to live with other artists’ work. I’ve been lucky to build relationships with many fellow artists that have resulted in an intimate and personal collection. I just think of myself as a caretaker of these artworks that I have the privilege to live with.  

Jerry: Additionally, I live alone. But I don’t feel like I do because every time I walk by a piece of art that I got from somebody I have some kind of personal relationship with, it’s almost like I have a bunch of roommates.  

Lisa: I so love that.  

Rafael: Jerry and I—and you as well Lisa—live with a lot of portraits. I also feel a kinship with these subjects. Someone once asked me, how do you sleep at night with all these people looking at you? I thought it was so poetic, this idea of …  

Jerry: … being looked over.  

Rafael: Yes. 

In columns, top to bottom. Left: Sol Lewitt, Robert Yoder, Meghann Riepenhoff, Warren Dykeman. Right: Victoria Haven, Robert Mangold, Val Karuskevich. Photo courtesy of Rafael Soldi.

Lisa: Rafael you’re an artist, a curator and you are part of the photographic community.  How has that helped you develop your sense of what you choose to put on your walls?  

Rafael: A lot. I’ve been lucky to do a lot of trades, which has resulted in bringing artworks I love into my home but also placing my work in the homes of other artists. It’s a creative exchange. I also have a bit of an early access to seeing works in progress and early ideas, by nature of my relationship with artists who are friends and colleagues. I also have many things in my collection that are “uncharacteristic” of the artist, such as “rejects,” artist proofs, one-offs, early prototypes, test prints, etc.  

Lisa: Is there an emphasis to what you collect? Do you specifically collect photography?  

Jerry: I have focused on photography, not because I don’t love other things, but because I  have a relationship with the Tacoma Art Museum. They have what I think to be a nascent photography collection compared to the depth they enjoy in other mediums such as paintings and glass. They’re not able financially to collect contemporary works. And there’s a lot of really amazing stuff being produced that I think needs to be in the public. That speaks very much to the mission of what Tacoma Art Museum is doing. Their curator, Margaret Bullock is an amazing woman. Their director, David Setford, is an amazing man. They’ve been very generous in communicating with me when there’s particular things they want or that I can acquire for them or directions they’d like to see the collection go. So I can acquire things, live with them for a while and then donate them. I’m trying to have purpose behind the spend so I know it will  end up in a place that honors both the creator of the art and will speak to the broader community of people who will get to enjoy it.  

Rafael: Early on I collected a lot of photography. Because I love it, because it’s often smaller  and more affordable. In recent years I decided to shift my focus to buying larger works—my house was full of small prints. So I decided to save up to instead invest in larger-scale works.  I’m also trying to step away from traditional photography, which I have a lot of, and looking for paintings, drawings, and unique takes on photography. For example, this piece behind me is a  photographic woven jacquard tapestry by Peruvian artist Gonzalo Hernandez. Lastly, I noticed that I owned a lot of depictions of artists’ partners or lovers, so I’ve started collecting intentionally within that theme as well.  

Lovers grid, clockwise from top left: Erickson Diaz-Cortez, Ian Lewandowski, Kule Dunn, Marsha Burns, Anthony Cudahy, Chuck Howard. Photo courtesy of Rafael Soldi.

Jerry: I tend to like things that are pretty strongly graphic. The black and white dynamic  appeals to me. Strong shape appeals to me. People appeal to me a lot. I had several Carrie Mae Weems photographs that I donated to the museum. But the thing that drew them to me was the intimacy of African-American life that she portrayed across the spectrum of settings. Obviously, I don’t live that life and am privileged to see it through the eyes of somebody who does live it. I think in some ways, that’s sort of what Raf is saying about the images of lovers or partners, is that you’re getting a real insight into somebody else’s life experience.  

Rafael: I would say there’s a very clear aesthetic to the work that you like in that there is a muted, but rich, palette. There’s always elegance and warmth.  

Jerry: Yeah. For instance, of the Northwest artists, Guy Anderson’s work has always been the one I most admire. I used to live in London and I have a fairly large collection of English art.  They just reflect that time in my life and are a wonderful reminder.  

Image credit: Henry Moore, photo from the collection of Jerry O’Leary

I have several Henry Moores, I have Gilbert and George, things like that that are fairly graphic and fairly strong. As Raf said, they have a lot of warm tones in them. For whatever reason, the pieces I have are comfortable for me to live with. I do have one photograph by Huma Bhabha.  It’s amazing. It’s a big statement against war and it’s a constructed pair of boots with a metal calf, part of the legs and the rest of the body is gone in what obviously was a blown-out war scene where a bomb went off. It’s about the life of a person. It’s very out of character compared to most of the pieces. But for some reason, I needed to live with that.  

I also have some abstract works. Rafael introduced me to the work of Serrah Russell, a  local artist. I really like her work and have four pieces.  

Lisa: I recently saw the exhibit at Housewright Gallery Northwest Influencers, a lovely  exhibit of pre-and post war works by Northwest artists. I’m curious if Northwest photographers figure into your collections in any way?  

Image credit: Rafeal Soldi, photo from the collection of Jerry O’Leary.

Jerry: For me, yes, because it started with relationships. Besides Rafael’s work, I had several pieces by Mel Curtis. My initial art purchases in Seattle were via the Lisa Harris Gallery that represented Mel Curtis. She had a sculptor, John Sisko, whose work I love and I have several of his pieces. Tom Woods, who does both amazing prints and also oil paintings. I have a  couple of his pieces. I was really drawn to their art, but more to them as people. I like supporting contemporary, producing artists. I think that should be a big part of anybody who can afford to buy art; not just buying history. That to me is a really important aspect of how I spend my collecting dollars. Is it going to live on beyond me by being something a museum or somebody would want? But secondly, am I supporting an artist?  

Rafael: This is something I admire so much about Jerry. I know not everybody’s in a  position to do that, but there are so few true patrons these days. People who are really interested in supporting the development of artists. There is such a strong secondary market because every time something is sold, a collector gets richer. There are very few people who are just deeply committed to supporting artists. Jerry is the type of person who’ll ask an artist, “How can I support this big milestone for you? How can my collecting  support the trajectory of an artist in a meaningful way?” I just admire that about you so much and it’s really important to think about that every time you buy something from an artist. It makes a huge difference in their lives, you know? 

Lisa: Rafael, what are your ideas on how one can find art on a limited budget?  

Rafael: Books can be very collectible! Many artists also produce special editions of their books that will come with a print. You can look at non-profits and arts organizations, many of them have print programs or fundraisers. And don’t forget about students! Going to student exhibits, like PCNW’s thesis shows—making a sale can be so meaningful for a student. You can also purchase directly from artists’ studios, either by going to art walks and open studio events, or by reaching out to them via social media. Lastly, never be afraid to ask for a  payment plan, I’ve bought so many things on a payment plan!  

Lisa: Is there a favorite piece in your collections that you got through the Photographic Center  Northwest, either an auction or some other way?  

Rafael: There are definitely a few that got away. But I got a beautiful piece by Jesse Burke that I still love.  

In columns, top to bottom, L to R: Regina DeLuise, Clayton Cotterell, Zora J Murff; Jesse Burke, Zora J Murff; Shikeith. Photo courtesy of Rafael Soldi.

Jerry: I think my first Michael Kenna came through the PCNW auction. I enjoy Michael  Kenna’s landscapes.  

Lisa: I also have acquired two of his landscapes through past PCNW benefit auctions and I  see he has generously donated the image Snow Parfait Tree, 2004 for the upcoming auction. 

Jerry: I think my first one came from the auction, but then I got tied in to G. Gibson Gallery. When you talk about people like Gail Gibson and their commitment to photography and  PCNW, it really says so much. PCNW has drawn people in with such fidelity and commitment to inclusiveness and excellence. That’s a huge part of what the Photo Center is to me. Its success is that it’s not exclusive, it’s not a private club. 

Rafael: Gail has truly been such a champion of PCNW. The last photograph I bought was from G. Gibson Gallery, an image by Marion Post Wolcott that I just couldn’t get out of my mind.  

Marion Post Wolcott, Haircutting in front of general store, Marcella Plantation, Mileston, Mississippi, 1939, photo courtesy of Rafael Soldi

Jerry: The generosity of educating people that Rafael, Gail Gibson and Terry Novak (Executive  Director, PCNW), and all the other people I’ve met through the Photo Center is a huge gift to  us. In a world where art is not taught in schools and it’s really hard to not be intimidated walking into a gallery, to have a place where you can be exposed to art in a really accessible and consumable way is just a treat.  

Lisa: Are there any artists you are particularly excited about seeing in the Golden Hour Benefit Auction this year? 

Rafael: I’m particularly excited to see works by Martin Chambi, Odette England, Marion Post Wolcott, Barbara Bosworth, Craig Mammano, Kris Graves, Meghann Riepenhoff, and many recent PCNW grads! 

This interview has been abridged for brevity. 


If you’re looking to celebrate or learn more about Black art, artists, and history, here are some suggestions for local exhibitions, events, and articles that promote Black brilliance. Check out our guide below, and make sure to swing by PCNW to see Pained Vistas, featuring Kris Graves, Dionne Lee, and Wendel White, and many others, before it closes March 17, 2022. We are also hosting an in-person artist reception on March 10th, 2022. This list is in no way exhaustive, but just a few ways we recommend spending the rest of Black History Month and beyond. You can continue to connect with PCNW for conversations and programs that promote photography as an agent for change in areas such as racial equity and social justice, and champion the work of BIPOC artists.


Watch films written and directed by African American women at NW Film Forum:

Love & Basketball (2000)
Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Eve’s Bayou (1997)
Thursday, February 24, 2022

Celebrate Black History Month at Northwest African American Museum:

Blood Brothers Film Screening
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
2:30 PM and 5 PM Pacific Time

Lift Every Voice and Sing: NAAM’s African American Cultural Ensemble
Thursday, February 24, 2022
7 PM Pacific Time

NAAM Night at the Sounders Soccer Match
Sunday, February 27, 2022
5 PM and 7 PM
Lumen Field

Join Atlantic Street Center’s Youth Development Program and Langston for a celebration of Black History Month and youth talent showcase of popular fashions of the ages, inspired by Black culture in Fabrics Of Our Lives.
Friday, February 25, 2022
7 – 9 PM
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute


Package Black at Henry Art Gallery
On view through May 1, 2022

Lauren Williams: Wake Work at Jacob Lawrence
On view through March 5, 2022

Lauren Halsey at Seattle Art Museum
On view through July 17, 2022

Contact High at MoPop 
Closes January 2023


In conjunction with Packaged Black, read The Poetics of Barbaral Earl Thomas by Berette Macaulay

Learn about local hotels, restaurants, clubs, and barbershops listed in the national Green Book guide for Black travelers that operated along Seattle’s Jackson Street corridor between the 1920s and the 1960s in this free, self-guided, multimedia Seattle Green Book tour put out by Black and Tan Hall.

November 2021 Member Showcase

For this month’s Member Showcase, we are featuring the photographic work of Nicolo Sertorio. Read below to learn more about his recent artistic projects.

Nicolo Sertorio – member since 2021

What are you working on?

I am still evolving my ‘Simulacra’ project (see below).

Artist Statement

My arts practice has been in increased flux for three years. I wanted to produce more topical work without sacrificing aesthetic concerns. This meant introducing creative decision making into the lens-based creative process earlier. I found an approach during an April, 2018 residency working on the digital layering of photographic images. This is now the core of my practice. It provides a blank space in which to explore both social and aesthetic issues and at the same time provides a tremendous range of possibility in transparency, texture, and color that would be unattainable in most single-layered lens-based work.

See more of Nicolo’s photography project online at: http://nicolosertorio.com/projects#/simulacra

Thanks again to Nicolo for their submission to our Member Showcase. If you’re a member of PCNW and would like to share your photographs, we’d love to hear from you. Complete our online form by the 15th of every month and a jury will review your work for consideration. Not a PCNW Member yet? You can join online today!

PCNW’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

Give the gift of photography! Whether you’re looking to learn a new skill, add a print to your collection, or support the burgeoning photographer in your home we have something for everyone. Winter is a great time to dive into a creative practice and Photographic Center Northwest (PCNW) offers many ways to learn and engage with photography, including through many online and in-person classes and workshops, so we hope you’ll make PCNW your resource this season.


Rock & Roll, by Jini Dellaccio


Shop the PCNW book store! Staff recommendations include Rock & Roll, by Jini Dellaccio; Natural Deceptions, by Natalie Krick; Snowbound, by Lisa Robinson and A Brave New Normal – Photographic Zine.

Detail of Henry Horenstein limited edition print


By shopping our selection of limited edition prints, you will be supporting both PCNW and the artist! Staff favorites include Jenny Riffle’s Limited Edition PrintsPeter de Lory, Chukar Partridge Nest, OR, 2002 and Richard Renaldi, Faith, Newark, New Jersey. 2001.


Photo by Sandy King


Did you know that PCNW offers online printing services through our Digital Lab? This service allows users to e‐mail files directly to our Digital Lab to be printed by our staff.


11×14 print size w/ matte board and sleeve
$30 each, free domestic shipping
Submit files to printing@pcnw.org via WeTransfer

Deadline for holiday delivery:
Friday, December 10th*

*barring any unforeseen or COVID-19 related delays by shipping carriers


Photo by Robert Wade


Members receive benefits including discounts on education offerings, facilities rentals and gallery purchases; opportunities for professional development and exhibition, and invitations to special member events.


Have a fellow photo-enthusiast in your life, or wondering what to tell others to get you? PCNW has gift certificates available!