About the Artists at Birch Grove Studios
Dennis McKenzie and Vickie Cole have opened a gallery near Big Lake featuring a wide variety of their work, including pottery-both functional and art-photography, gut vessel forms and jewelry. Call us at 907.376.5816. We are here most of the time.
Read the December 10, 2004 article »
I was born in 1947 in the city of San Francisco, California USA, child of a U.S. Marine and the New Zealand women he fell in love with during the War in the Pacific. My parents settled in San Francisco after the war and raised four children of whom I am the oldest. Photography was my first love in the arts. When I was 16 years old I learned to Scuba dive and became an assistant dive instructor.
My diving mentor was also a photographer who had a small darkroom set up in the back of his dive shop in San Francisco. This was the time of the Nikon F and the emergence of the SLR 35mm camera. I was hooked. I roamed the California coastline on dive trips or by hitchhiking from Big Sur to Mendocino seeking images that moved me. As well as shooting "The Haight Asbury scene" While living in the city. I did this for a number of years while working odd jobs from California to Alaska.
In 1973 I fell in love with pottery while living in Southern California. It was something I had wanted to try for some years. I finally found an opening in a summer class at Chaffy College near Upland, CA and studied with Lindley Mixon a gifted teacher who became a close friend and mentor. After a few years we returned to Alaska were I worked as a carpenter until my pottery skills were good enough and I have been a professional studio potter for the last 25 years here in the Mat-SU Valley near Anchorage, Alaska.
I have shown my work at far too many galleries and Art Fairs to mention. I now also teach pottery at my own studio near Big Lake and have been doing so for some 7 to 8 years. I am also a sailor and have sailed here in Alaska for 17yrs. My wife, Vickie Cole and our son David took an extended cruising trip in our own boat from Alaska to Mexico to Hawaii and back to Seward, Alaska in the years of 1989 to 1991. Now we sail mostly in Prince William Sound during the summer, trying to capture its wonders and mystery on film.
In 1999 my interest in photography was rekindled and I brought my-self up to date on the latest technology. (THANK YOU PHOTO.NET!) I learned about the "Digital Darkroom" revolution. This is how I do my own work now. I use 35mm Nikon gear and some medium format slide film and scan into Photoshop to work my images. Sometimes I manipulate the images very little and sometimes a lot. I print the larger prints using the Hahnemuhle collection of Fine Art Papers. I wish to capture a feel of place that gives me an emotional response to the mystery of the landscape and sea interface that I love so well. I find great creativity and thus deep satisfaction working in Photoshop to fine-tune the images. My favorite images tend to be on the dark side, with large areas of black counter pointing rich areas of color and texture with an impressionistic viewpoint.
I was born in Chicago 1942 into an artistic family where music, the written word and the visual arts were a constant part of our lives. My grandfather was a painter who taught at the Chicago Art Institute, my father studied music and my mother English literature. Both my brothers had a musical bent while, I the youngest bathed my mind in the waters of natural science. By the age of fifteen I had my own natural history museum and was working summers at archaeological sites along Lake Michigan.
David McKenzie Cole
David McKenzie-Cole was raised by wolves in the area of Denali National Park, Alaska after his parents' plane went down in a raging blizzard. Year after year his family and friends continued searching for a survivor. Young David was eventually found.
To view David's photography visit Photonet.