Local photographer Gina Genis will soon release Volume 2 of her “Everybody and Their Mother” series featuring photos of local residents. “My long-term art project is to photograph every full-time resident of Idyllwild who has lived here for five years or longer,” Genis said. She publishes one book annually using about 67 to 70 people per volume. Residents complete a questionnaire so Genis can get a sense of who they are. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book go to a scholarship fund she created to benefit an Idyllwild Arts student.
A native Angeleno, Genis believes she was “born an artist” with a determination that surprised her family. “My first foray into creativity was when my mother refused to buy me a bikini,” Genis said. “I took matters into my own hands and cut up my bed sheets which were bright colors of green, orange, yellow and pink, and made my own bikini.” Genis was only 5 at the time. And, despite having to replace some of their household linens, Genis’ family remained supportive. “My parents were very supportive of any creative endeavor I explored and were enthusiastic enough to provide private lessons,” she added.
Her love for art would be a mainstay in her educational and recreational curriculum from elementary school through college. She played the piano, violin and guitar, took lessons in singing and photography, and acted in school plays. After high school, she earned her degree in fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles and followed that with her second degree in fine art from Parsons in New York — this while acting in commercials and serving as a fit and runway model.
Idyllwild would become a significant part of Genis’ life in 2003. On the recommendation of a friend, she made the trip to Idyllwild in search of a rental property. “I was working full-time as a fit model for a major fashion company, so I wanted to stay in [Orange County],” she explained. “I had never been to Idyllwild, so I drove up to check it out. Once I inhaled the crisp, clean air, I was hooked.” Genis purchased her “treehouse” in Pine Cove, quit her job, moved and never looked back.
No one is more supportive of Genis’ passion for her work than husband, Brent Lufkin, who is called upon from time to time to serve as a model for Genis. A Village Properties and military alumni, Lufkin also worked as a chief operations officer for art galleries so, according to Genis, “he understands the creative life.”
“There are infinite reasons to love Idyllwild,” Genis said. As with many mountain residents, nature is one of many reasons she enjoys life on the Hill. In particular, Genis loves the many talented and interesting people who call the mountain home. She also loves the fact that “the village is a true community that helps it’s own people in times of need,” she said.
With many volumes of her book series “Everybody and Their Mother” still to follow, Genis will touch the lives of many folk who call Idyllwild home. “I am about one-third of the way through photographing people for Volume 3, which will come out in the summer of 2015.”
In addition to the “Everybody and Their Mother” Vols. 1 and 2, Genis also offers field and online workshops for aspiring photographers. More information can be found on her website at www.ginagenis.com.