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The Art of Sleep and Expectations of Waking Up

April 11, 2009
Chester Higgins' photo of Chu Yun's installation at the New Museum

Chester Higgins' photo of Chu Yun's installation at the New Museum

I posted about this show earlier today and then discovered Kevin Bubriski’s photo from Uzbekistan below:

bubriski_03The Chester Higgins photo for the New York Times review of The Generational: Younger than Jesus exhibition features a medicated woman sleeping in the center of one of the New Museum’s galleries. Kevin Bubriski’s view of “local residents sleeping outside in Khiva, Uzbekistan” echoes similar sentiments without the drugs. Kevin’s Central Asian portfolio has recently been added to SDN.

Last weekend I went to the wonderful opening of photographs by Stan Sherer and Blake Fitch at the Hallmark Museum of Contemporary Photography. The museum has been around for four or more years now and has consistently presented work from all quarters of the photography spectrum. At the opening I talked with museum director and curator Paul Turnbull. In this age of “bigger than life” art administrators with BTL egos, it is a pleasure to hear Paul’s philosophy of museum directing/curating. He says that it’s not about what he likes in pictures. It’s about waking viewers up to the many possibilities of the still image. His exhibition record speaks for itself. He has shown artists and photographers from the full spectrum of photographic practice. He’s exhibited color innovators like Jay Maisel, legends like Paul Caponigro, the greatest photographer of the New England Landscape, and his son John Paul Caponigro, who is totally entrenched in the digital domain. I mentioned the Colin Finlay tough-on-your-emotions exhibit in an earlier post.

Currently, Hallmark is featuring Stan Sherer, who is a prime example of the strength of documentary and fine art photography in Western Mass. Stan spent a career documenting the world, especially Africa, Russia and Albania. He has, more recently, embarked on an inner visual journey incorporating scientific lantern slides, landscape and his unique personal intelligence. See my earlier post about his color abstractions. The picture below, not in the Hallmark show, illustrates his interweaving of documentary work with fine printmaking.

Stan Sherer, Chess, St. Petersburg, Russia

Stan Sherer, Chess, St. Petersburg, Russia

I’ve known Stan for decades so the real surprise of the show was Blake Fitch’s decade long narrative of her younger sibling and friend growing up in the affluent Northeast. My first walk through of the gallery brought up the image of a more focussed Tina Barney. Then, the intensity of her singular study of two girls over time registered their impact. These girls are like Sally Mann’s daughters only photographed with less sexual tension and a New England-based, rather than Southern, grace.

blake-fitch_07

Blake Fitch - Expectations of Adolescence

Blake Fitch - Expectations of Adolescence

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2009 7:41 am

    Frank,

    Thank you for introducing me to Blake Fitch’s photographs. I have fallen in love with her portraits. For some reason I seem to be very captivated by them. I especially adore the Expectations of Adolescence portraits. I can see Sally Mann as having an inspiration over these portraits.

  2. April 12, 2009 8:16 am

    Hi Jeff, Both Blake and Tina Barney were museum professionals. That is a wonderful way to absorb art, and to understand what an individual can contribute to a legacy of thousands of years of creative remains.

    The Sally Mann connection is a bit more difficult to fathom as Sally is a creative, productive powerhouse and Blake seems considerably more laid back. I think the connection is there even though Sally isn’t real interested in subtly and the impact of Blake’s series comes from comparing several portraits.

    Get up to Hallmark before the show closes on June 28th.

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