Los Banos mayor has an eye for photography

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comMay 23, 2013 

The process is more important than the final product for the latest artist with works on display in the Los Banos Library.

"For me, it's more the technical end of producing a photograph than it is the actual photograph," Mike Villalta said. "And, using the different techniques that I've learned over the years."

Six photographs taken by the 63-year-old mayor of Los Banos are the focus of a library display that rotates about every six weeks.

Villalta said the paper he uses -- whether glossy, matte or pearlescent -- and the printer itself are as important, if not more so, than the camera.

"The paper's important, because it gives you different effects," he said.

Glossy photos are more detailed than matte, but the finish makes them susceptible to glare. Pearlescent photos have a hologram-like shimmer.

Photos, paper and printing also put food on the table for Villalta, but not as an artist. He has owned The Frame Shop with his wife, Leslie, since 1982. The business specializes in custom picture framing, digital photo restoration, digital art reproduction and fine art printing, according to its website.

Villalta graduated with a bachelor's in art from the College of Notre Dame, also called Notre Dame de Namur University, in Belmont. His focus was on painting and graphics.

"I never really got to use my degree until I retired," Villalta said, adding he taught a single art class at Los Banos Junior High.

He taught at the primary and secondary levels in Los Banos, and also held administrative positions.

He said he started shooting photos about 10 years ago.

Villalta said he never got into the darkroom process because he saw it as tedious, but has since embraced processing with computer programs. He said it's taken years of classroom study, sitting next to people 20 years his junior.

"Education is the key," Villalta said. "And, we can't get along without it."

Patti Ryan, a member of the Friends of the Library and the person in charge of the local-artists program, said the photos will be up until June 21.

Next up will be photographer Donna Mendes.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos


Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos enterprise.com.

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