About Mark & Jerry
Mark Chamberlain, a photographic artist, educator, curator and published writer, grew up in Dubuque, Iowa. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in business administration, both from the University of Iowa. In February 1967, only two days after receiving his master’s, he was drafted into the army. Narrowly avoiding jungle duty in Viet Nam, he served a one-year tour in South Korea. In fact, his military tour during the Viet Nam War changed his life’s trajectory, from running the family business to becoming an artist, gallery owner and curator.
“While stationed overseas, I picked up the camera primarily to keep my sanity and provide an outlet beyond the more common practices of drinking, whoring, and gambling. I also took classes in the Korean language and history and found a Korean photography instructor attached to the military crafts program who saw talent in my work. Mr. Chae became a real mentor, teaching me darkroom techniques and forcing me to examine the deeper meanings in my photographs.” Mark often roamed Korea’s cities and countryside, conversing with the people while photographing their lifestyles.
“Returning home, I could not find the threads of my previous path, yet I had a growing desire to find an outlet for this newfound passion.” In 1969, he packed up his MG Midget and headed to Los Angeles, aspiring to open a photographic art gallery with a former army buddy.
When those plans fell through he relocated to Laguna Beach, a community that seemed “like a safer haven than L.A., with a canyon road that reminded me of the Midwest.” Along with photography, he supported himself as a housepainter, carpenter, electrician, and general handyman, developing skills he later employed in constructing BC Space.
Mark’s first major body of work, after leaving the military, was Dubuque Passages, intimate black and white images of his hometown from 1972 through 1976. In the mid 1970s, he shifted his camera’s focus to the California urban landscape and Laguna Beach, added color to his film palette, and began Future Fossils. Dream Sequences followed—lyrical figurative work in vibrant color with erotic overtones. In 1979, he returned to the smaller format camera to begin shooting Looking for 2000.
A solo retrospective of his 40-plus-year artistic career, “Reflections of an Armchair Arteologist,” was presented in 2010 in the Founders Hall Gallery at Soka University, Aliso Viejo, California. Simultaneously, the history of BC Space was displayed at Grand Central Art Center (Cal State Fullerton), Santa Ana, in “BC Space: Mything in Action.” In 2013 a book under that same name was released.
In October 2014, Mark received a Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Award as “Artistic Visionary” from Arts Orange County.
In 2015, an exhibition on the Laguna Canyon Project, “The Canyon Project: Artivism,” opened at Laguna Art Museum, and ran for two months. His book, “The Laguna Canyon Project: Refining Artivism,” was published in 2018 by the Laguna Wilderness Press.
Mark Chamberlain’s work is in public and private collections, including the Laguna Art Museum, UC Irvine Archives and the Orange County Museum of Art.
Jerry Burchfield (1948-2009), BC Space partner through 1987, was born in Chicago and grew up in San Diego with an illustrator/artist father who encouraged his son’s studies in photography. While Jerry was deferred from the draft, he was deeply affected by the war and the maelstrom of anti-war protests. As a young man with a rebellious streak, he was on a quest to find deeper meaning for his life’s work. In 1971, while attending college and working at a commercial photo studio, Jerry met Mark, discovering a brother/comrade who shared his enthusiasm for photography as fine art.
Jerry recalled, “I met Mark when he was querying submissions for the Laguna Beach Winter Festival of Arts. We exhibited the first photographs ever at the Festival, including our own images, works by local photographers of merit, and prints by deceased Laguna notables such as Paul Outerbridge and William Mortensen.”
Within two years of their meeting, Jerry asked Mark if he would like to go into partnership for a photography business and gallery. They soon began raising funds, locating the proper equipment and devising a business plan, and within three months, opened their photography lab and gallery.
In the 70s, Jerry started making camera-less color images called photograms. These led to his Lumen Prints; Primal Images and Understory prints, documenting plant life in Amazon rainforests and Florida, celebrating the beauty of nature, and alluding to the losses that the wilderness faces. In this work, Jerry placed plant material directly onto black and white photographic paper, and then let sunlight, rain, fluctuating temperatures and the plant’s chemistry interact through prolonged exposures.
Jerry’s photographs and performance art were shown in more than 60 solo exhibitions and 500 group shows. He received numerous awards and grants, including the National Endowment for the Arts, Polaroid Corporation, and a lifetime achievement award from Artists for a Better World. His work is in numerous public and private collections, including the Los Angeles Museum of Art, George Eastman House, the Chicago Art Institute, and the Bibliotheque National.