RENEE WALLACE WILSON

(Renee Ing Akana)

 

My mother died in 2009, but before she left the rest of us behind, she told me that if I bought her house, she'd write me out of the will. Aside from the fact that the house has a truly haunted history, what more could happen if I did buy it.

I bought the house just because. 

Isn't it amazing that in Spanish or Italian (and perhaps many other languages that I equally don't know) the important words of the universe seem to blur into one.  

por que y porque

perche e perche

WHY and BECAUSE. 

Life in Los Angeles had its challenges  at the time that I left and I miss it all of the time! I was illegally evicted and I came to upstate New York. I felt like an exile. I sued my landlord and won, but it was a long process and an even longer story. I moved into the old house on Railroad Street.  It was a an insane decision to make the move East in 2014. I lived at the ocean for forty-five years and I was road tripping every weekend through the mountains and the desert. I wasn't so sure that I made the right move. I was less certain that I could feel as adventurous or as creative in my new home because it was different. The house remained haunted with old memories and new concerns.

My mother parked her spirit front and center. I remembered that once she had her cataract surgery, her life changed.  She was able to dump her rhinestone studded "coke bottles" and she was able to see without them.  She was fascinated with anything and everything that was on the ground. She found money, a diamond ring, a birthstone ring she gave to me and just about anything you can imagine. One day, she opened up her wallet and proudly fanned the currency that she collected from down below. "Spend it," I said.  "Oh no," she claimed. "It begets more of the same." There was something new that I saw in my mother. 

If my life changed, would I think to look down to the ground?

My mother could spot fascination in a piece of cello wrap. She had this willingness to get into a new world just by looking elsewhere. She would be walking the edge of a curb, shuffling leaves and discarded paper. One year, we were parked in my car at the Rose Parade in Pasadena. After she did her tour of the local gutters, we were eating our ham and cheese sandwiches in the car, waiting for traffic to let us out of our crammed in space. I pointed out that she had been picking things up in the street without washing her hands. The woman gave me a "stink eye." She said nothing. Without breaking her gaze on me and as if to show me what she thought, she took another bite out of her sandwich.  

I never imagined that I would live on Railroad Street again. This is an even longer story. My father was killed by a train when I was a kid. My mother's grandfather was killed by a train. My shooting partner was a rail fan and for some strange reason, I was finding trains roaring through my life again. 

I suppose that the message for me was that if things change, look down at your feet and see what's down there and perhaps see where one is going.  Go with the flow.

Shows, Events & Awards:

  • July 2019 group show, Munson Williams Proctor Museum sidewalk show, exhibiting a train photograph (sold)
  • June 2019 Solo Exhibit at Oneida Public Library of train photography
  • January 2019 - Toy Train Show, Union Station, Utica, NY
  • 2018 Gallery on Farrier Avenue, Oneida, NY
  • December 2018 CAC Holiday Show, Sherrill, NY
  • 2015 (March) Featured Photographer, New Landscape Photography
    2013 MOPLA Pin Up Show, Robert Berman Gallery, Bergamont Station, Santa Monica, CA
  • 2011 & 2012 International Photography Awards

           * IPA 2011 - Honorable Mention - Editorial : Environmental Category
           * IPA 2011 - Honorable Mention - People : Lifestyle Category
           * IPA 2012 - Honorable Mention - Special : Digitally Enhanced Category
           * IPA 2012 - Honorable Mention - Fine Art : Other_FA Category

  • 2012 Pico Artist Coalition 
  • 2010 / 2009  5x7 shows, Blue 7 Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
  • 2009 Water Show, Santa Monica College Exhibit, Santa Monica, CA
  • 2008 Exhibit for Pico Blvd / Pico Improvement Organization, Santa Monica, CA
  • 2008 National Geographic Bioblitz, Santa Monica Mountains, CA, contributing photographer
  • 2008 Sierra Club auction contributor

Education:  

  • Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, California
  • Private mentoring with a professional photographer since 2007