Family Members from 19th Century are Part of Project

Mesa Republic Corinne Geertsen
Family Members from 19th Century are Part of Project by Sally Mesarosh

Corinne Geertsen’s ancestors show up in the most unlikely places. They might be cast adrift at sea or perched atop a pogo stick or floating high above the clouds.

As a digital artist, Geertsen mixes old and new images to create quirky visual narratives. She designs digital prints by using old family photos and her own original art to illustrate parables.

Her work is featured at Phoenix’s Burton Barr Central Library in an exhibit titled Psychological Images of Sophistication and Quirk that runs through Jan. 3 at the library’s @Central Gallery.

Geertsen said the ideas originated when she began to digitally restore hundreds of family photos from the 19th century by learning Photoshop techniques.

“I quickly saw what a rich resource the family photos are and what could be done with them,” Geertsen said. “I work from my incessantly growing library of over 20,000 images-my own photographs, old family photos and scans of everything from marshmallows to dead bugs. Often, I draw or paint something, then photograph it and put it into a digital picture.

“Geertsen, who holds a bachelor and a master of fine arts degrees from Brigham Young University, enrolled in digital art classes at Mesa Community College to learn to use new resources that weren’t available when she received her degrees.

“When I graduated, computers had their own rooms and there was no Photoshop.” Geertsen said. “I’m currently enjoying classes that did not exist then.

“She said she found MCC art instructor Tom Klare’s Photoshop classes enormously helpful.

“The classes have given me a thorough working foundation of skills.” Geertsen said. “Tom Klare also teaches how to put a concept in a picture. This has been invaluable.

“Geertsen named the show Psychological Images of Sophistication and Quirk because she thought it had a nice 19th century ring to it, just like the pictures.

“Psychological because the images pull subconscious strings,” Geertsen said. “Sophistication because demeanor in 19th century photos is detached and cool and because the set-ups in the pictures are elegant.

“Geertsen said she hopes people who attend her exhibit enjoy the images as much as she enjoys creating them.

“The digital pictures were tremendously interesting and fun to make,” Geertsen said. “I hope that looking at them is also. I think of the pictures as snapshots of ongoing stories and fables. I’m always happy when they’re funny but true. I hope this comes through as well.”

The Quiet Before the Crush

Here’s the gallery just before the show opened. (The show was up three weeks before the opening.

We’re having Thanksgiving the week before Christmas and it’s a Blue Moon month. I know.)

Love the open glass at the end. Architect Will Bruder is a genius.

Nineteen pieces in the show, just couldn’t squeeze anymore in.

Anything Can Happen

Anything Can Happen Corinne Geertsen

Anything Can Happen

Great-uncle Horatio belonged to the Church of Perpetual Serendipity.

(This is an older picture re-worked. I like this so much better. The figure is David James Geertsen, an antecedent of my husband’s.)

Tin Type

Tin Type Corinne Geertsen

We went to a thrift store yesterday and brought home this great tin type (and 10 photos).
I’m looking forward to working with this. Possibly Civil War era?


Migratory Corinne Geertsen


A tortoise doesn’t wear a helmet unless he thinks he’s going to need it.  And everything is better with an owl along.

The Fish Channel

The Fish Channel Corinne Geertsen

The Fish Channel

Love obscure cable channels. The children are unknown and now not forgotten. I made the wallpaper from lots of things–the rip in it is from a photo of a great uncle.

The City of Phoenix has this picture in its permanent collection.


Contra Rhinocycle Corinne Geertsen

Contra Rhinocycle

Of course rhinos love pineapples. Please notice that when the rhino walks to the left, the Rhinocycle moves to the right.
To go forward you must go back. Zen rhino.

The palette is Nursery Colors Gone Sour. The rudder is made from a hand-carved wooden shovel belonging to one
of the houses we rented when we lived in Denmark.
Corinne Geertsen Shovel

Rhino and Child

20090313-W Rhino-55
Here’s a great Rhino. I like him lots because he’s zippy;
he rocks and rolls around his rhinoceros pen.
Old Photo Corinne Geertsen
This girl is from a thrift shop in downtown Mesa, Arizona. I’m busy putting the two of them together.
No babies will be harmed in the making of this picture.

Fish Purse

Fish Purse Corinne Geertsen

Fish Purse

Fish Purse came together before the others in my queue. This picture is about what it’s like to
lose a house to foreclosure, as some people dear to me will soon. Bravery, ominous skies,
money taking on a new meaning, and endurance.

Delivering Peace

Delivering Peace Corinne Geertsen

Delivering Peace

Finished. The fellow on the left is Anders Geertsen, one of my husband’s people. His picture was taken in Aarhus, Denmark in about 1883. The fellow on the right is Kaiser Wilhelm. No offense to Anders, this picture is about the absurdity of so many military endeavors.

The Mesa Arts Center has this piece in its permanent collection.