December 13, 2016

City Beat

MK Envision Galleries goes all natural

The new gallery in Liberty Station specializes in local and international nature photography

by Seth Combs

Kelsey Nordal and Michelle Ballantyne always envisioned themselves being surrounded by nature. The two BFs, who first met as business students at the University of San Diego, immediately bonded over a mutual love of the natural world and, more pressingly, a love of trying to capture the majesty of the great outdoors.

"Both of us have always loved photography and dabbled," says Nordal. "We consider ourselves amateur landscape photographers. So we always had that, but we never considered it as part of our business picture, cause I don't think either one of us would ever jump into trying to make it as a photographer."

And yet here they are, inside their new Point Loma gallery within the ever-expanding Liberty Station Arts District, surrounded by nature photography from both established shutterbugs and promising locals. In fact, their MK Envision Galleries will focus exclusively on nature and landscape photography. This fact seems limiting on the surface. It's hard enough breaking into the fine art business, much less making money at it, when the business only sells one type or genre of art. Ballantyne, however, says she's confident that people will appreciate her and Nordal's discerning eyes when it comes to the pictures. 

"We've just found that photography is kind of universally appealing, so it just appeals to so many different people and that's why we wanted our gallery to feel accessible and comfortable and not cold," says Ballantyne, adding that the duo's business acumen will help them land new clients and artists. 

The gallery's grand opening show on Friday, Oct. 7, from 5 to 9 p.m. will feature the work of three photographers. Midwesterner John Scanlan focuses on the European countryside, but the other two artists are both homegrown talents. Originally from Mexico City, Ivan Farca specializes in nature and cityscapes that capture everything from lightning storms to the understated majesty of a beach pier. Fellow local Nicole Boramanand blurs the lines between fine art and photography with a nuanced, sometimes impressionistic approach to beach photography. 

Nordal says MK Envision will always focus on nurturing the local photography scene. "Michelle and I are very, very passionate about local. We like supporting local businesses, we like the mom and pops, and what better way to show our support of local than to represent local talent, too?"