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home : kudos : features Thursday, June 09, 2005

6/8/2005 5:01:00 AM   
AHHA! Art Gallery

Staff Reporter

Courtesy image: 'PETUNIA' by Anni Adkins
AHHA! Art Gallery in Hillside Sedona offers spectacular views: inside and outside.

Outside the gallery is one of the most inspiring views in Sedona. Step inside, and you'll see that inspiration turned into breathtaking works of art.

Painter Anni Adkins and photographer Joe Hoover chase light throughout the Southwest. Subjects and canvas and film are only tools the artists use to give form to that light.

Now the artists' works are featured in their own gallery: AHHA! Art Gallery.

The couple started AHHA! Productions in 1980, specializing in television commercials and print advertisements. Anni and Joe changed their artistic bent in 1995 and founded the Adkins Hoover Gallery in Dallas.

Joe creates both realistic and computer-enhanced photographs.

A former cinematographer and combat cameraman, Joe now focuses his medium- and large-format cameras on the landscapes of the Southwest. "I only shoot transparencies," he said, explaining that he often uses tungsten film for night shots of mountains using a high-intensity spotlight to paint the scene while the aperture on his camera remains open.

He travels the Southwest searching for near perfect combinations of landscapes and light. "It's all about being at the right place when the light is magic," Joe said.

He said being a gallery owner has affected his photography. "Not the way I do things," Joe said. "But now that sales take place on a regular basis, I really have to be on my toes." He said the gallery has made him more critical and more productive.

Anni does not allow the business side of owning a gallery to change her art. She admits that getting the gallery up and running has cut down on the time she has to paint. She said she'll correct that by spending the rest of the summer hiding in her studio. But she won't allow owning a gallery to change her art.

"I've never been influenced by other people," Anni said. "I'm influenced by what I see."

Anni and Joe know they contribute to the gallery's success more by pursuing their art than working retail shifts. That's why they've hired Diane Devoe as the gallery manager. Some unavoidable time constraints aside, Anni and Joe are thrilled to be selling their art through their own gallery.

"This is an artists' gallery," Joe said.

Anni said the control that comes with owning the gallery is important. "We don't like anyone else to handle our work," she said.

"We have an artistic statement," Anni said. She describes herself and Joe as basically modern artists.

"As artists, we want to be able to choose the direction our art goes," she said. "We want to control how it's shown."

Anni and Joe agree that the gallery might be open to showing other artists' work. They currently represent a few pieces of furniture by Merle Tech. "He's kind of the Frank Lloyd Wright of the furniture world, Anni said.

Upon entering AHHA! Art Gallery visitors first see one of Anni's most spectacular landscapes, the Swirl in Antelope Canyon. Like her other large-scale paintings of landscapes and contemporary flowers, Anni interprets realism almost to that fuzzy edge between reality and abstraction. She paints recognizable subjects, but she does so by painting them up close and out of context. The result is artwork not easy to characterize as either realism or abstraction.

Anni's goal is to create art with simplicity, beauty and balance. Her life experience has prepared her to do just that. At 13, she won a full scholarship to L'Ecole De Beaux Arts in France.

After working in display art, she and Joe started a modeling and advertising agency in Florida. It was during this time that she started creating photorealism paintings. After growing tired of working in black and white, Anni started painting abstracts with bright colors.

Finally, Anni and Joe left Florida in a recreational vehicle to search for their art. The couple spent time in New Mexico and opened an art gallery in Dallas. But it still wasn't everything they hoped to find.

David McCullough, an abstract expressionist, told Anni about Sedona and said she would find her art there. The light in Arizona overwhelmed her, and after seeing Michael Fatali's photographs of Antelope Canyon, she knew she had found her art.

Now Joe and Anni still search for the light. They take two and three day trips around the Southwest, often hiking together with cameras.

"We go exploring," Anni said.

AHHA! Art Gallery is in Hillside Sedona at Arizona 179.

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