Rosie Lukenda gets up out her wheelchair while being applauded at the opening of her new photo show at Gabi’s Fairytale Cafe last Friday.

Rosie Lukenda gets up out her wheelchair while being applauded at the opening of her new photo show at Gabi’s Fairytale Cafe last Friday.

Rosie Lukenda’s new show opening an emotional affair

There was lots of smiles and laughter, and even a few tears, as Rosie Lukenda opened her new photography show.

There was lots of smiles and laughter, and even a few tears, as Rosie Lukenda opened her new photography show at Gabi’s Fairytale Cafe on Friday.

The cafe was packed to take in the opening of White in Bloom — Lukenda’s new exhibit that showcased more than a year’s worth of painstaking work.

Lukenda, who has Parkinson’s disease and uses a wheelchair, was cheered at the show when she was introduced and briefly stood up out of her chair. She also got quite a few laughs, cracking jokes as Terri McLeod read out a long list of thank yous.

“I’m quite emotional as well. I know each of you have played such an important role individually and collectively to help Rosie make this show,” McLeod said. “It’s called community and I’m honoured to be part of it.”

The exhibit features 24 photographs of flowers that Lukenda took inside her home and then edited using her iPad. Each picture took hours of editing using different photo apps.

“Rosie can pull up the raw photo and the one that she edited to show them side-by-side to demonstrate the artistry in this creative process,” said McLeod. “She spent hours figuring out how she wants to edit them and what focus and blur and all those special effects.”

For Lukenda, the show marks a long journey. She graduated with a photography degree from the Alberta College of Art & Design in 1991 and eventually found herself in Los Angeles busy doing wedding photography.

In March 2000, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. She stayed in L.A. for another year, but eventually moved back to Nakusp. Here, she managed to regain her creative energy and in 2010 she presented a show of 10 photographs in Nakusp and New Denver.

Her latest show marks the culmination of more than a year’s work, brought about by a self-employment program.

The show developed slowly. It started with Lukenda’s partner Ty Klassen bringing her flowers that she would then photograph in her home.

“He didn’t give me a choice. He’d put them on the table in front of me and say, ‘Here!’” said Lukenda. “He’s the reason there’s 24 and not 12 pictures.”

She would make use of the light available to her indoors and then edit them using the many apps available on her iPad. “It made a great shot box,” she said of the light inside her home. “The light would bounce off, so it would be really soft light. It was perfect light to take photographs.”

Slowly, she amassed a large collection of photos — about 3,000 — and the idea came to put together an exhibit.

Lukenda pointed to one of the photos on the wall — a soft-lit image of some yellow flowers she called Fairies. The editing process brought out elements that were hidden in the original image.

“It looks likes a bunch of fairies congregating,” she told me. “What’s really amazing is it’s just yellow flowers. When you see the original picture, you don’t see any of that.”

The exhibit was made possible with a great deal of help and many people were thanked at the show opening — job coaches, health aids, friends, family members and more.

What’s next for Lukenda? She said she’d like to do an exhibit about dogs, but she’s also thinking of doing something new with her photos from her time in Los Angeles.

“I have a wonderful collection of photos and I was thinking about re-working them and doing a representation of that part of my life in LA.” she said. “It was a very special time, a very hard time.”