In An Instant
Moments and Light

by Cindy-jo Dietz

HOW MANY TIMES have I walked the streets of downtown Fort Myers and oogled the many shops and unique sights that make up the downtown River District? Too many. And with each new pass there is always something new to see. With so many galleries, museums, hotels and restaurants dotting the main streets it’s easy to forget the gems that lie just off the beaten path. In One Instant Gallery is one of these special places.

Located on Jackson Street, In One Instant offers what many galleries in the area often lack — a true photographic documentation of local, regional and international scenes as seen through the eyes of an array of artist photographers. You never know what you might see at the gallery — what everyday sights can be viewed in a new light and what each artist can take and twist into their own vision.

Sitting in his gallery Paul and I discussed his background, the gallery business and outlook, and what In One Instant hopes to achieve over the coming year. Paul is clearly always excited to discuss the magic behind the photographic arts.

“The art thing began when I was a kid,” he recalls. “I think of all the art teachers that I had through elementary school and middle school and high school. They were the ones who let me do my thing. In high school one of my first art teachers was Carolyn Gora. Caroyn has been a leading figure in the arts in Fort Myers. Her husband, Bruce was a great photographer and an architect. I always tell Carolyn she is the one who got me to this point.”

“But it was actually a representative of the Art Institute who helped me figure out that”, he continues. “I wanted to go to school to become a photographer. Thanks to them, I’m a graphic designer by trade. I’ve had a job in ad design until last year when there was a bit of downsizing going on in the agency I was with. Currently, I freelance and over the past few years, I’ve been pretty successful with my photography.”

In One Instant will be celebrating it’s one year anniversary in January, but has the sparkle and charm of a gallery that’s been providing it’s customers with great pieces for years. “I have always loved downtown Fort Myers,” Rodino admits. “I wouldn’t do this anywhere else. There’s no other place I could imagine having a gallery.” He continues, “The biggest challenge though is that we’re not on First Street. I still get people who come here and say they didn’t know I were here. They ask ‘How long have you been here?’ and complain that I’m off the beaten path.” I say, “I’m really not. I’m only a half a block away. But we are the outside edge of Art Walk. I knew it was going to be an issue, but at the time there were other galleries opening up and I figured with Art Walk people would walk around and find me.”

Paul and the gallery recently teamed up with the Alliance for the Arts to provide potential photography enthusiasts with classes pertaining to all skill levels. Paul explains, “I always knew that once I opened the gallery, it wasn’t just going to be all about the gallery. It was going to be about the photography itself. I knew I wanted to provide classes. The classes are really what brings people in here. We try to keep them simple.”

He continues, “Pretty much for all our classes all you really need is your camera and your manual. But it’s not one of those things where you have to have all this stuff. Plus, we go over everything. These classes are for people who’ve gotten a really nice camera, but who keep it on automatic all of the time. We teach them how to actually make the camera do what they want to do and not have the camera forcing them into the picture they get.”

“At first, the gallery offered just a class for beginners and an intermediate class, with a few advanced classes. But since combining efforts with the Alliance for the Arts, it’s really worked out well. They’re able to market to a lot of people we don’t have access to,” he says. “Now we’ve completely restructured the classes. We have two three-week classes, a beginners class and an advanced class.”

As with most galleries downtown, In One Instant combines their opening night receptions with downtown’s Art Walk events. I asked Paul about January’s and February’s shows.

January’s show features Jim Lustenader, from Bonita Springs. Rodino explains. “He travels a lot. His photography consists of beautiful street scenes from Paris. It’s all black and white, very romantic and very pretty. I’m so happy — for February we have the photographic couple Rebecca Sexton Larsen and her husband Matt Larsen. They live in Tampa. Rebecca is very well known for what is called the Alternative Process. Her photography involves semi traditional and traditional darkroom work. She also works with pinhole cameras and toy cameras. She creates large pieces where she stitches the pieces together and then paints on it. We are going to have only two of those pieces — the rest will be of a traditional process called Tin Type. Tin Type involves doing a contact print from a large negative onto paper, then touched with chemicals. It’s developed out in the sun, not in a darkroom.

“Her husband will be showing some of his contact work using photos he’s taken with his iPhone. He then turns them into negatives to make a contact print. It’s kind of taking modern day and traditional work and going backwards. A fun thing is, they have this huge Airstream they remodeled into a studio/educational workshop vehicle. We’re hoping that we can park it in front of the gallery for February’s Art Walk. Hopefully, we will be able to use the Airstream to do a little iPhone photo trip around the neighborhood. It should be interesting.”

Paul says,”That was the thing about having a gallery. I wanted to bring people here I thought people should see, should notice, should recognize. Most of the featured photographers from this past year have been local, but this next year I’m branching out to more regional, even out-of-state photographers.” He continues, “We want people who walk in the gallery to realize photography is an art form and it has been for quite some time now. Photography is everywhere and it is constantly influencing us.”

I asked Rodino about his opinions on the changing technologies and trends in photography — film vs digital, professional vs iPhone, etc. “If you break down photography for what it is, it’s really capturing light. It’s capturing a moment in time”, he answers. “That’s why the gallery is called In One Instant. It’s always been about capturing that one moment. But you do have to look at how things change.”

He continues, “I think photography will evolve. There will always be film and there will always be a still image. Right now everything is in such a state of flux. Nobody knows which way to go or which way they should do things. It’s actually kind of fun.”

“We are really the only photography gallery between here and Sarasota. So it’s something really special that we have. I think its unique,” boasts Rodino. “So please, if you can make it to Art Walk and First Street in downtown Fort Myers, I believe you can make it another half a block down Jackson Street.

In One Instant is located at 1526 Jackson Street in Fort Myers’ historic River District. The gallery is open Tue-Sat 10am-4pm. For information about the gallery or classes and workshops, call 834-0995. •

January-February 2012

photograph by David Dack Maki
“I always knew that
once I opened the gallery
it wasn’t just going to be
all about the gallery.
It was going to be about
the photography itself.”

photograph by Lustenader

photograph by Matt Larsen

photograph by Mike Kinery

photograph by Marian Krauthamer