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An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Gary Priester

Gary Priester, stereogram artist, designs apps for the iPad in his Placitas studio

iPad apps

Priester creates three-D magic

—Barb Belknap

Sometimes the better things in life are those that you come upon unexpectedly—a tiny minnow in a still pond, a spotted deer in a sunlit forest, an alien spaceship in a poster . . . Huh? You remember, those 3-D spaceships and fields of leaping dolphins that would magically appear in posters back in the nineties? I couldn’t see them back then, when I was one of the twenty-million taken in by the craze. I stared at them deeply in the shopping mall light, yearning for the moment of: “Waaait. I think I see something. Oh, ohhhh, thaaat’s incredible.” It didn’t happen for me back then, but Gary Priester could see them.

As a writer and graphic designer doing odd jobs in Sausalito, Priester happened upon those posters and also upon a stereogram creation software review in Publish magazine written by an art writer. Being fascinated, no, obsessed with them, Priester contacted the author and offered to pay him for just two hours of his time to learn about what made these images pop. "It was one of the best investments I ever made," he said.

After discovering the recipe for making stereograms (Take one proper grayscale “depth” image, embed it into a repeating wallpaper-type pattern, and sprinkle with subtle differences), Priester soon had a web site posted with a page of stereogram images on it. It wasn’t long before Gene Levine came surfing by and saw them.

Levine, a prolific stereogram artist himself who had worked out a deal selling his images to the then-eager Japanese market, contacted Priester from his Los Angeles home and they became “virtual” pals.

Levine told his exuberant contacts at Takarajimasha, Inc. Tokyo , who were launching a stereogram magazine series called TJ MOOK, about Priester, whose work complemented Levine’s, and they emailed Priester immediately and asked him to submit his work.

Since that time, the duo has been exclusively featured in three books of stereograms—Incredible Eye Tricks, and Incredible 3D Stereograms—Eye Tricks, both published by Arcturus Publishing Limited, London, and Hidden Treasures, published by Sterling Publishing, New York/London, as well as in eighteen TJ MOOK magazines that have sold over four million copies. Their third book—expected to be released by early winter 2011—is called Startling Stereograms, and is being published by Imagine Publishing in New Jersey. 

“I love being published and working with Gene; his artwork is really fantastic,” said Priester. “But the greatest pleasure I get is watching people see stereograms for the first time. When they say, ‘I see it! I see it!’ it’s worth all the effort. It’s one of the few things in life where there’s magic left.”

Perhaps all artists strive to achieve what Priester has accomplished. That is, to share an experience that connects one to another as human beings. “In gallery settings, some people barely spend more than a second interacting with the artwork on the wall,” said Priester. “But one thing that’s nice about the stereograms as artwork is that they really make a connection with the viewer, if only for the time it takes to interact with the image.”

Some people don’t think of the stereograms as art because they’re done with a computer, Priester explained to me. But he just smiles and tells them that they are ten percent art and ninety percent magic.

Priester reminds those who cannot see stereograms that it is not a contest. It can take some time to train your brain to look at something in a different way. In his books, he includes simple eye exercises one can do to make the perception easier.

What the stereogram image does is fool the brain based on the hiding of a picture within a picture. As explained in Eye Tricks:

“It is helpful to remember that visual perception happens in the brain, not the eyes. . . . And if you introduce some subtle offsets and distortions into two otherwise similar images, the mind will perceive depth even though it is not truly there.”

Actually, the computer software reads the information in the black-and-white depth image, and then makes the subtle changes to each of the repeating patterns. The brain combines these differences to create the hidden 3D image. The stereogram artist’s job is to create the depth image and then to create a good, random pattern for the computer to use to camouflage the changes.

That perception of depth that is not really there is a psychedelic experience presented by the artist to the viewer. Wikipedia describes psychedelic experience as characterized “by the perception of aspects of one's mind previously unknown or by the creative exuberance of the mind liberated from its ostensibly ordinary fetters.” That said, the stereogram experience is thrilling—and this brings us to the iPad.

Yes, since there’s an App for this and an App for that, Priester and Levine agreed that there should be an iPad App (application) for their stereograms.

As a devout PC user, it was a big step for Priester to break down and create for an Apple product. He even had to, egad, buy one! But Levine and Priester found the iPad to be the perfect machine to showcase their stereograms with its screen resolution twice that of a regular computer and the easy vertical-to-horizontal format capability. The appeal here was that they could present the stereogram in the horizontal position and if the viewer rotated the iPad to the vertical position, the image would change to show the hidden-depth image.

“What better environment to see stereograms, other than the back page of the Signpost?” Priester chuckled, though as a Placitas resident, he really does enjoy sharing his stereograms with the community in this way.

“It wasn’t easy making an iPad App to sell on iTunes,” he confessed. At least, not until they found “Bob.” Laying out the App itself wasn’t a problem, since both Gary and Gene are masters in graphic design and page layout. But they needed a middleman who knew how to convert their InDesign file to an App—a complex process—and submit it to Apple for acceptance. So, Bob was hired and, after a few months of hard work and anticipation, on December 17, 2010, ninety-six stereograms in brilliant color were placed on iTunes by Apple.

The result is two dazzling iPad Apps (for only $1.99 each) sure to amaze even the most sophisticated stereogram viewer—the 3D stereograms are arguably the best in the field. Titled Eyeball 3D and Eyeball2 3D—search for those titles or “3-D stereograms priester” on the Internet and they will come right up. And there is also a free app, “How to eyeball 3-D stereograms” that explains how to view stereograms and has some free images for people to practice on.

For the whole story of the trials and tribulations of making an “eBook,” read Priester’s article at: To see his stereograms online, visit Priester’s Stereogram Gallery at or go to

Water Offers

Rain circles & squares & oblongs

rain magic

rain the world turning

the heat burning

rain the recumbrant we are the alarm clock: Wake up!

the stores of water are somewhere, somewhere too much

but not enough here


we are not all bad, we need your moisture

your gift, your surety, your insurance against death


the wild plant seeds have patience I can admire

but I’m living, moving every minute, some part of me . . .

clouds building, teasing, filling the sky but not fulfilling


everything aches for your touch, your smell of newness hitting the earth


the water that is everywhere but not here, gift of the atmosphere, the         universe

what made us


what is in us if not your need for replenishment

clouds filling full fulfillment


skies silent now, what is your warning?


contradict the dust

be as you may for that is

in every stretch of the imagination

the real is thirst


as you in every shape you take

come alive to dance with us . . .

mystery of clear answer


moisture muse


rain waters water

offers often

falls . . .

—larry goodell  / 17Jul2011 /  placitas, new mexico

Library art exhibit

Painting by Adele Stuhlmann, from Placitas Community Center’s Senior art class

Community Center artists exhibit at Placitas Library

—Valerie L. Tomberlin

There will be an art show featuring the works of the Placitas Center Senior Art class at the Placitas Library during the month of August, 2011.We are doing interesting and sometimes hauntingly beautiful works under the tutelage of our esteemed teacher, Elaine Slusher. Elaine is an accomplished artist and shares her talents by instructing without interfering with our original styles, hence this show has a wide variety of tastes and mediums that creatively express our  individual differences. There will be works from artists (not all seniors) who have been in her class since 1997 to those members who recently joined us. Please come and see what you can do with a little help and a whole lot of perseverance! The reception will be on Sunday, August 7 at 1:00 p.m. If you love art for art's sake, you will not want to miss this show...who knows, you might join our class!





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