As a teenager, Chase Millholen discovered the art of photography thanks to his mother, who has taught art classes at his old high school for 30 years. But more than just a hobby he fell into by birth, 20-year-old Millholen explains how photography evolved into something much more personal.
As his Web site www.halfbubbleoff.com explains, Millholen’s “series ties in words with – photos coming from all sorts of ideas and input from music, books and most of all, my own experiences.”
Today, he will unveil a project that truly expresses his love for Cal Poly and its picturesque environment – something he calls, “The SLO Way.”
An exhibit of manipulated digital photographs coupled with thoughtful quotes, Millholen said his photos are “all-encompassing of the SLO way.”
“One of the phrases is ‘This is not a sprint, this is a marathon,’ and that’s the SLO way – to take things a step at a time,” he said.
What began as one photo in 2003 of the gum wall downtown, “The SLO Way” formed into a full-blown project for Millholen last year, touching on the themes life, nature, memories and stability.
“One of my pieces, ‘Exit Smeared,’ is a picture of everyone blurred,” he said, “and I have a card next to it talking about my experience at Cal Poly. It deals with stability and coming onto campus.”
Of all the themes he incorporates into “The SLO Way,” Millholen said stability was a major part of his work because he believes “everybody looks for stability when they come here.”
Millholen admits, however, that the reason behind “The SLO Way” project is that he has deep roots with the area. Both his parents graduated from Cal Poly as well as his older sister Allison, who graduated in 2000.
“I just wanted to take pictures of things I think are special about the town, and get people thinking about the town because I’ve been enjoying it for the past eight years,” Millholen said.
He also added that the phrases he chose for each photo were meant to make viewers step back and contemplate their way of life and how that parallels with the SLO way of life.
“I never thought about the purpose (of my art), but I feel college is a time for exploring who you are, and people may not realize it, but you form your way with the town,” he said.
In Millholen’s opinion, of course, “this is a good place to find your way.”
As the first UU Gallery exhibit for the academic year, Millholen now realizes how his photos tie in with the wave of new students at Cal Poly.
“It’s kind of a doorway to the town for the new people,” he said
Amy Whittaker, a graphic communications senior and the UU Gallery’s student supervisor of fine arts, agrees.
“For this particular show, Chase has a really interesting and unique view of San Luis Obispo, and so it’s just a good show for people to come and discover or re-experience what’s right in front of them,” she said.
So, what’s next for the food science junior-turned artist?
“Well, if this show goes well, if my prints sell, I plan on putting more prints up of local scenes online for people to buy,” he said. “It’s kind of exciting to see if people who want to purchase your stuff, but it’s hard to sell art. It’s not a promised market.”
So, until there is promise, Millholen’s going to take it one step at a time – starting with getting people to see San Luis Obispo through his eyes. For this northern California native, “There’s definitely something special about this town.”
To view Millholen’s work or to order prints, visit www.halfbubbleoff.com.