Keoki Flagg | Evolving with the times

Keoki Flagg is an iconic Tahoe artist and photographer. He has traveled the world, illuminating his life experiences through the lens of his camera for more than 35 years. This adventurer has made his home in Tahoe and his renowned Gallery Keoki is nestled in the Village at Squaw.

Keoki Flagg on top of a tram during the shoot for the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Ski Patrol 2017 Calendar

Celebrity Hound Hobnob
Feb. 11 | 6-8 p.m.
Gallery Keoki | Village at Squaw 
Meet Squaw Valley Dog Team & their handlers

Entering the gallery, one is enveloped by larger-than-life landscapes. The bold blues of Lake Tahoe create a sense of standing on the shore with waves lapping at your toes. Turn to another wall and there are photographs of the sheer, steep, white, snow-covered Sierra, many with world-class skiers leaving fresh tracks on mind-bending verticals. Or you may find yourself face to face with Flagg’s famous shots of dogs in a meadow or perched on a chair lift.

Each room of the gallery tells a story. One highlights his trips to Antarctica where he captured playful penguins in the wild. He captures scenes of immense nothingness in a landscape of white where a speck of humanity reminds us of the infinite space we live in and how small we are in this universe. Flagg’s photographs are alive with energy; they pop off the wall and take the observer on a journey.

A large-scale installation of Keoki Flagg’s work

“It’s not what we recognize, but how it feels,” says Flagg of his art. “It’s about human immersion in the natural world and how it makes you feel in that moment, how it elicits an emotional sense and power.”

“It’s about human immersion in the natural world and how it makes you feel in that moment, how it elicits an emotional sense and power.”  – Keoki Flagg

Flagg has watched and participated in the evolution of his gallery and his photography. He’s moved with the changes in technology that have brought him into the digital age. Even his old cameras displayed behind glass tell a story. Flagg continues to reinvent his art.

“I took over 1 million photographs last year and only two made it into the gallery. These were timeless moments that grab you by the heart,” he says.

Flagg stitches shots together to create one seamless photograph. He calls this technique “pentimental,” and describes it as “a process of stripping away and or building on an image to reveal the true intention of the artist and/or the true nature and feeling of the image and its moment.”

“Inside Out” | Keoki Flagg

A pentimental stitch is the process in which Flagg creates his uniqueness and then floats his photographs on acrylic to create original distinction to his artwork.

“The technology we are embracing is some of the best of new and the best of the old,” he says. “I manipulate reality, pushing the envelope and incorporating new technologies and process photographs to evoke and convey an image.”

According to Flagg, there are three components that are key to his art and originality: “It still has to have that organic touchy, feely textural component. It has to be unequivocally defended as original and guarantee that it will be unique and original every time and the third is the magic of discovery, trusting the process and getting out of the way to let it happen.”

“New Dawn” installation by Keoki Flagg

The birth of his book, “Elemental,” was a 25-year labor of love. Local resident and writer Jeff Brunings and editor Craig Hammond helped Flagg bring his vision to reality, combining the written words of Flagg’s life dance with the depth and beauty of his photography.

“This book was my spiritual why — why we choose this lifestyle. It taught me about what makes my art shine. It’s not a moment in time but time in the moment,” he says.

Large-scale installations of Flagg’s art can be found in many Tahoe residences.

“I feel like we’re on a mission to help people find their own voice,” says Flagg.

He and his business partner, Lynn Gibson, help homeowners envision large-scale art pieces on the walls of their home, enabling them to bring the natural world into their living space.

Flagg created the Women of the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Ski Patrol 2017 Calendar to raise money for the ski patrollers and support avalanche education. The gallery is also hosting the annual Celebrity Hound Hobnob, a benefit for the Squaw Valley Avalanche Rescue Dog & Education Fund, on Feb. 11.

What has Keoki Flagg learned from his years as an extreme photographer and artist? “Perspective is everything,” he says.

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Priya Hutner
Priya is a writer, personal chef and meditation teacher. Having moved to the mountains from Sebastian, Fla., she embraces the Tahoe lifestyle and loves to ski, hike, paddle and swim. Priya is the owner of The Seasoned Sage, a business that prepares organic meals and facilitates workshops that promote a health-conscious lifestyle. Priya writes feature articles about music, art, food and recreation. She loves to immerse in story. Whether jumping from a plane, eating obscure foods or hitting the Tahoe-Reno music scene, she is always up for adventure and experience. She is currently writing a memoir about her experience living on an ashram and working on a series of cookbooks.