Open Heart

New photography exhibit is for lovers

For much of her career, Diane Epstein was a creativity coach and therapist dealing with matters of the heart and mind. Soon after she moved from San Francisco to Italy in 1995, she added a new passion in fine art photography and created a technique she calls “fresco photography,” layering superimposed photographs on top of each other, like layers of paint, to create images that resembled the aging Italian paintings she saw.

“I call it layered love notes,” says Epstein. “The images evoke a sense of a love of life and all living things.”

When her former husband died, Epstein returned to California in 2015. “I came back to the Bay Area to start afresh, a new chapter in my life,” says Epstein, who now lives in the East Bay. “Actually, it’s been amazing coming back. I didn’t expect that, [making] a whole new life for myself.”

In Italy, Epstein’s artistic focus was on architectural detail in landscapes and cityscapes as well as what she calls the patina of time, the imperfections that come with passing centuries.

Since she’s been back in the Bay Area, she has trained her camera on the region’s natural beauty and become involved in biophilic design, the art of incorporating natural features into interior spaces to encourage serenity, focus and wellbeing.

“I’m interested in implementing my works to help transform spaces and create some wellness elements,” says Epstein. “Most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, and they’re losing the beauty and the healing elements of California if they’re indoors all the time. One of my missions is to bring love into the world, but also to bring in the love of nature.”

She shares that love of nature with her new husband, an evolutionary biologist, and the two recently married explorers can often be found at sites like the Point Reyes seashore.

This month, Epstein’s work can also be found in Marin at her new exhibit, “An Open Book: Fresco Photography,” showing now at Room Art Gallery in Mill Valley.

Epstein’s focus for this show is on three images of books done in her signature style. Two of the images depict ancient books from the Biblioteca Angelica (the Library of Angels), in Rome, with the layered images celebrating the aging textural remnants of ancient storytelling. The third image, “An Open Book” (pictured), shows a book whose blank pages flutter, suggesting a new story yet to be written.

On Feb. 16, Epstein will be on hand for the show’s Valentine’s-appropriate “Art Lovers’ Opening” reception, in which she will lead a workshop titled “An Untold Love Story,” where participants can bring their own blank books, and find inspiration to write their own stories.

“Love is such an important part of my life,” says Epstein. “And my purpose in life is to bring more love into people’s lives.

“I see love as a part of everyone’s story.”

Meet Diane Epstein at the ‘Art Lovers’ Opening’ on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Room Art Gallery, 86 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley. Noon to 3pm. ‘An Untold Love Story’ workshop begins at 1pm. Free.

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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