Janis EkmanJanis began taking photographs at the age of eight. Her first camera was a Brownie Instamatic. Her first subjects were her younger sister hanging upside down on a fence and the family dog, Dixie. Today, Janis spends any hours walking the beaches of Wellfleet, Massachusetts with her two border collies, camera in hand. She is semi-retired now, having spend twenty-five years in the entertainment business in New York City where she was a founding partner in SEM&M,
a talent agency representing actors for commercials.

When the agency closed its doors in 2001, Janis began spending as much time as possible in her beloved Wellfleet. Light and pattern and color became the focus of her photography. Her photographs “unveil the bountiful secrets of nature exactly as they are before the march of time mars their perfect beauty...the secrets they reveal are startling.” (Provincetown Banner, August 30, 2007)

Ekman Goes it Alone
by Reva Blau
as printed in the Provincetown Banner
August 30, 2007

Janis Ekman, who runs the single-artist “The Garage Gallery,” a stone’s throw from the Wellfleet Council of Aging, stumbled onto the track of abstract landscape photography when she bought a digital camera to take on vacation.  She went to the beach with her dogs, her daily ritual, and absent-mindedly took a picture of a wave after it broke on shore.

The low pixel quality made the stirred-up water fuzzy, but she looked at it and marveled at its patterns.  Now with her bigger camera, she no longer needs the atmospheric gifts of the soft focus.  She is taking crystal clear pictures that unveil the bountiful secrets of nature exactly as they are before the march of time mars their perfect beauty.

From that first wave,  Ekman took more pictures of the water and then later, on subsequent walks, the sand.  Uploading them onto her computer, she fell in love with certain ripples, certain indentations.

Four years later, she is still doing it.  Her photo card holds around 260 pictures.  Of these, she feels lucky to find one that is a gem.  She blows some of them up large.  Others she cuts down to postage-stamp-size that reminds her of the pictures that she took with the Brownie camera her parents gave her when she was eight.  In one of these, her sister is hanging upside-down on a jungle gym.  In fact, she shot in film for years and never thought to exhibit her work.  It was only when friends told her that she had to start showing her work that she realized she could create a studio and even a gallery out of the garage on her property.

“I am trying to do all sorts of things,” said Ekman last week in this gallery, “in the way of light and patterns.  When you look at one thing over and over again, you start to see the patterns.”  Clouds, famous for the patterns that inspire children’s imaginations, are a natural subject for Ekman.   She loves to catch the clouds right after it has rained, just as she catches the light after the sun has gone down.

In a photograph entitled “Gaia’s Rock,” a lone branch stands up majestically from a dune, making the scene look more like Death Valley than Chipman’s Cove or Duck Harbor.  Mostly, her pictures are more prosaic, although the secrets they reveal are startling.  Sometimes it will be a neon red and orange cloud formation just after sunrise blown up to window-size.  Sometimes, a three-by-two inch photograph will reveal a ripple of the water, mottled cracks of the sand or three perfect, tiny cumulus clouds above a few shrub trees on the dunes.  You have to nose up to it to find the many secrets she extracts from her walks.Gaia's Rock

Even while running the gallery, Ekman still takes her camera when she goes on her daily walks with her dogs who still like to chase sticks into the water.  When she is focusing on a picture they have figured out that they need to find someone else on the beach to throw sticks for them.

The Garage Gallery, featuring the work of Janis Ekman, is on the corner of Somerset Avenue and Old King’s Highway in Wellfleet, a block from the COA.  Open daily from 2 to 6 p.m. with evenings hours Wednesday and Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. when wine and cheese are served.  Call (508) 349-3945 for more information.


Angels In The Clouds And Other Images
by Marilyn Miller
as published in The Cape Codder August 3, 2007

WELLFLEET--   Ever since she was 8 years old and got her first Brownie camera, Jan Ekman fell in love with the idea of capturing the scenes that captivated her.

She’s older now, but still has that child-like delight in the wonders nature puts before our eyes daily, wonders that can be observed only for seconds or minutes before they fade away--unless captured on film. 

That’s why she can be found flat on her back in the sand on a beach in Wellfleet, her Canon EOS 20D digital camera pointed up at the sky, capturing the incredible colors of the sunset on clouds.  And when she goes back home and prints out the images, she’s convinced that if you look closely, forms of angels can be glimpsed within the clouds. 

She feels blessed by angels to be in Wellfleet, where the light is unbelievably beautiful for painters and photographers.  And blessed to be able to turn what once was the garage in front of her house, just off Old King’s Highway, into an art gallery where she displays her abstract art photographs. 

She’s the first to admit “it’s off the beaten path,” but daily she gets people who stop by after a day at one of the ponds nearby, to take a look at the 50 photos she has on display.  The prices range from $90.00 on up. 

A family of five stopped by Tuesday afternoon, beach towels in hand and the teenage boy talked camera talk with Ekman, guessing at the setting she used to get her photo of ice on the beach. 

“We were at the pond and saw the gallery open sign and stopped by to take a look,” his mother said, adding that she enjoyed very much what she saw. 

Ekman, who calls herself “semi-retired,” used to run a talent agency in New York City where she and her partners got people jobs in commercials and voice-overs.  “We were on of the biggest agencies in New York for commercials,” she said. 

When she sold the agency in 2000, she bought the house in Wellfleet, and started to divide her time between Wellfleet and her apartment in New York. 

“Photography has always been an avocation for me,” she said.  “I did black and white photography for many years, but then, when I started to spend more time up here, I got my first digital camera five years ago, and one day, when I was out walking the dogs, I had this little Canon digital camera in my pocket, and there was this unbelievable sunset, and something told me to take a photo of the light on the water, and that’s how I started.” 

That photo, blown up to 11 by 14 inches, is on display in her Garage Gallery.

She opened the gallery  June 23.  “The response has been great,” she said.  “I sold three on opening day.  It’s just a matter of getting the people over here.”

One of her photos on display shows water lapping over sand that has been rippled by waves.  When she had that photo developed and printed on Elegant’s “Breathing Color” paper, which is similar to watercolor paper, the printer asked if it was a view of a tsunami. 

“’How did you take it?  Were you up in a helicopter?’ he asked me.  I said ‘No,’ it’s a sluiceway,’” she said adding, “I really do think there are angels up there.”