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Artist Profile - Peter Krohn - October 2012

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Artist Profile - Peter Krohn - October 2012

by Barbara J. Ellis

Luminescent Botanicals is the name Peter Krohn gave his collection of stylized prints. The stark contrast of vibrant florals on a black base grabs your attention. Then you are caught by a familiar image in an unfamiliar juxtaposition. And finally, the detail of each individual item draws you into an intimacy with nature. These pictures are a true facsimile of botanicals but are only natural in that they are living – whether emerging or declining – plants. The placement of each element is painstakingly executed to produce a compelling work of art. Peter chose his words well. In fact, Peter has written a brief narrative of his feelings about each piece that reveals the depth of his knowing the right words to choose.

Peter Krohn began his journey as an immigrant early in life. He was born in Zurich, Switzerland- the son of two German refugees - and spent his toddler time in Milano, Italy.  With Hitler’s war looming in Europe, the Krohn family lit in Montreal, Quebec to establish their new life. The environment that Peter grew up within was inner city and little tolerance for creating anything that did not result in income. Peter recalls that he took a class from the Canadian painter, Arthur Lismer. Lismer was the influential member of The Group of Seven in establishing a recognizable style for Canadian painting with his organic connection to the Canadian landscape. He further distinguished himself by establishing children’s workshops to promote the arts to the children in Montreal and Toronto. Lucky Peter was one of those who benefited from Lismer’s passion. However, as much as Peter wanted to be a part of the art community, he was taught that art was a pursuit for those who were not required to bring in money.

Since painting was not an acceptable creative outlet for Peter, he turned to the written word.  Having read the epitaphs to Peter’s prints, I was not surprised to learn that poetry was a great part of Peter’s development as a young man.  He shared the stage with another Montreal native, Leonard Cohen, reading poetry he had written to the local crowds.  But the life of an immigrant could not be sustained on poetry either. 

Peter worked a number of jobs that kept pushing him towards advertising. After failing to find employment that stimulated his imagination, Peter founded his own ad agency.   Krohn Advertising was recognized as the “most creative” firm in Montreal by his peers.  Peter produced photos, ad copy and TV spots. And still this self effacing man does not see that he has been an artist his adult life. 

After twenty years in the advertising world, Peter changed everything by moving to San Francisco.  He enrolled in The California Institute of Integral Studies and entered the world of couple’s therapy.  He met his wife, Beth, while both were volunteering at San Francisco Suicide Prevention. In 1985, Peter and Beth wanted to move to a place where they could have a garden, enjoy the country and pursue their careers.  Sebastopol was suggested as the ideal place for them to plant their seeds. Thankfully for our community, the Krohns settled on a tree lined lane outside of Sebastopol. This environment has allowed Peter to slow down and observe the blossoming of poppies, the gathering of bees and the aspects of botanicals that are often missed in the bustle of daily life - very far away from the crowded alleys of Montreal and the cramped quarters of city life.  Sonoma County is the treasure that he had sought throughout his youth and early adulthood – the home for his creative vision. 

Peter began an honest pursuit of his lifelong dream to “become an artist” about five years ago. He discovered Scanography through Tim Fleming of Petaluma and has raised it to a new artform that he has dubbed PhotoGraphica – a marriage of scan photography and computer enhancement.  His son, Zak Krohn, collaborates with him by contributing much of the computer image modifications. I saw my first Peter Krohn PhotoGraphica piece while interviewing Amber Moshin in 2011. I was mesmerized – yes, breathless.  The production possibilities were swimming in my imagination. How was this stunning work of art generated?  Peter showed me how he gathers the subjects from his garden (or roadside or friend’s garden) and then carefully places them on the scanner or above the scanner. There are stands, brackets, clips, cogs, strings – whatever it takes to suspend the objects above the glass of the scanner. The scan is done in darkness and the vegetation jumps with life as the beam crosses the bed. Fascinating! Peter and Zak are experimenting to vary the background from black to other shades and colors.  Peter’s studio is full of prints on paper, canvas, aluminum – any substrate that could render a unique representation of the same image. To visit Peter’s world of art is an adventure and an honor.

For the last two years, the Santa Rosa Photography Club has awarded to Peter’s work the “Image of the Year” distinction.  Peter first participated in Art@theSource this June and was an instant hit with the freshness of his offerings, demonstrations of scan art and beauty of his location. If you missed his first open studio, you have the opportunity to experience it during the two weekends of ARTrails, October 13, 14, 20 and 21. Follow the tree lined Yule Tree Lane off of Pleasant Hill Road and enter the world of PhotoGraphica. He is Studio 117 in the catalog. To view Peter’s work, go to his website at photographicakrohn.com