Photographer opens Wilderness Exclusives gallery in Frisco
FRISCO — Photographer Clark Schiring didn’t plan to open a gallery in the middle of a pandemic. But the Nebraska native always has planned for it to be on Frisco’s Main Street. The roughly 1,000-square-foot property at 720 E. Main St., Suite 102A, was the first he looked at in town, and the dream of a physical space for Wilderness Exclusives was fulfilled after five years.
“It was that specific,” said Schiring, who now splits his time between Denver and Frisco. “I kind of saw an opportunity there to become a part of this community that I’ve been in love with for so long. I think it’s one of the greatest places in the world. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
Wilderness Exclusives can hold about 25-30 prints on its walls in addition to storing loose matted prints. Eventually, Schiring wants to grow it beyond his personal shop and turn it into a hub for local creators.
“I’m open to a number of different ideas that I’m currently bouncing around,” he said. “I want to leave an impact on this amazing place.”
Schiring knows that opening a gallery out of the blue — without even appearing in exhibitions and fairs elsewhere or having a large social media presence — is not the common path for artists. He attributes reaching this milestone to his mentors, friends and family.
While Schiring could have kept the gallery closed and focused on online sales, he said those have never been a large revenue stream for him. He also would prefer patrons to see the product in person. Schiring sells prints starting at $35 and can do custom orders. The gallery has two archival-grade mounted presentations that are handcrafted from an imagining lab in Denver. One is mounted on wood that floats off a wall and doesn’t require framing. The other is a bright acrylic print that’s long-lasting due to UV protection from the Diasec process he uses.
“The beauty of the piece doesn’t revel itself until it’s done and it’s on the wall,” he said. “The ability to put the work directly in front of the eyes so people can appreciate it in its final form is important.”
Schiring has experience in pivoting, and wanting to leave a legacy is partly why he left the world of construction roughly 10 years ago. The industry slowed then during the Great Recession, and Schiring found himself going from one entry-level job to another as companies shuttered. He decided he wanted to be his own boss.
He had always enjoyed taking photos since a young age, but he was frustrated how what his eye saw and the lens captured never exactly matched. Rather than give up, he walked into a Barnes & Noble bookstore to pick up a beginner’s guide to photography to learn how to improve. He then studied under Jeffrey Rupp at the Denver School of Photography and became more serious about pursuing the art form as a full-time career.
“You can leave a legacy through construction, it’s just at the time it wasn’t really panning out for me,” Schiring said, adding that he always loved walking new owners through their home while going over the final checklist. “Then I fell in love with photography and decided to go this direction.”
From there, he took workshops from National Geographic’s Ira Block in New York, Spain and Vietnam. He appreciates Block’s harsh and blunt criticism and also finds inspiration from the magazine’s Annie Griffiths as well as the night photography of Gabriel Biderman. No matter who is behind the camera, he likes photographers who can tell a story and highlight emotion for a unique perspective. That’s his major aim with his own work, wanting to create “images that stimulate more than just your sense of sight.”
Whether it be journalistic, architectural, wildlife, landscape, street or night photography, Schiring focuses on dynamic motion in his portfolio, no matter the genre.
“It could be a waterfall, it could be a skier, or it could be anything in between,” Schiring said. “There’s a lot of ways to freeze motion or blur motion depending on the type of image you want to create.”
He’s glad he was able to snap images this year at places like Great Sand Dunes National Park since the pandemic has meant taking fewer photos recently with certain areas closed and travel restrictions. However, those health guidelines don’t bother him.
“If I can’t go out to a park to shoot with my camera for a few months, it’s a small part to save a bunch of lives and is fine with me,” he said.
He also admires the works by classic painters such as Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh and Monet. Yet he said he’ll stick with photography as he never did well with art classes in high school. “I got a C on my color wheel,” Schiring said, laughing. “It’s not something I really have the talent for.”
Wilderness Exclusives is at 720 E Main St., Suite 102A, next to HighSide Brewing. It is currently open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. However, the hours are subject to change in the future depending on the pandemic and visitors. The gallery has masks for guests who may have forgotten them along with hand sanitizer sitting at the entrances. Only seven people are allowed in at one time.
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