Take a photographic journey at Kish Gallery exhibit in Columbia
By Mike Giuliano
Baltimore Sun Media|
Nov 29, 2019 at 12:00 PM
The Creative Imaging Workshop Artists live up to its organizational name in the group exhibit “In Pursuit of the Creative Image” at the Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House. Although they rely to varying degrees upon the image-altering possibilities of digital photography, such technical doctoring is in the service of bringing out the essential qualities of the landscapes, buildings and people they’re photographing.
Thomas Fretz, for instance, has extreme close-ups of sedum, aloe and agave plants that are gently colored with shades of pink and white. These are natural studies in which you are encouraged to consider different organic shapes and patterns.
Also inviting you to take a closer look at nature is Charles Bowers, whose photos rely upon pigment ink placed on translucent vellum paper that has been backed with gold or silver metal. “Poppy Story” is a fine example in which small, impossible to read writing provides the ancient-looking backdrop for the image of a single blooming poppy. This particular photo may remind you of a medieval illuminated manuscript. Other poppy-themed photos also have the appearance of botanical illustrations.
Bowers also has more panoramic shots of trees, in which they seem like ghosted forests with black tree forms standing out against a misty-white background.
If Bowers has a photographic palette that sometimes relies upon basic contrasts between black and white, some of the other artists in this group exhibit work with black-and-white photography in a relatively more traditional manner.
Linda Lund has a series that, judging from the clothing and hats, was shot in an Asian fishing village. There are shots taken at sea, others taken on shore and others taken at a market where it’s rather gratifying to see baskets full of fish for sale. One gets a sense of a fishing economy whose methods probably have not changed for centuries.
Also taking us to distant places via black-and-white photographic imagery is Kaye Flamm. “Shapes of Gray, Aran Islands, Ireland” consists of six distinct photos arranged in an orderly grid. The result gives you a concise sense of a ruined church and other buildings starkly sited in a barren landscape.
Flamm uses the same format for “Shadow Presence, Czech Republic,” in which all six photos depict deep shadows against Old World architecture; and “Street Forms, Umbria, Italy” has six photos offering cultural glimpses of everything from a flower box in a window to how clay roof tiles are like a beautiful geometry lesson.
Speaking of architecture, Frank Aquino has color photos shot in Abu Dhabi that present this Middle Eastern locale at various times of day and night. We see impressive mosques that attest to an ancient culture, but also a modern skyline with such cutting-edge architecture that it seems like the city of tomorrow already exists today.
Exploring another distant land, Sarah Herman has a colorfully assertive series shot in Morocco. There is a strong sense of an individual human subject in “Sahara Desert Workman,” and his close-up presence is reinforced by the bright colors he sports in his clothing. More reticent, however, is the presentation of a female subject in “Long Way Home.” We see a woman from behind as she walks down a narrow street. And the architectural context of this location is neatly emphasized in “Looking In,” whose subject is an ornately decorated doorway.
There is virtually no sense of a landscape setting for David Mullen, because his work is all about portraiture. He mostly relies upon pale colors that invite a closer look at his individual photographic subjects. These people tend to have a straightforward gaze. Indeed, you may feel a tad uncomfortable when you pull up before a photo that is ominously titled “Insanity.” It features a gray-haired elderly man who is intensely looking right at you.
For portraits that also incorporate some of the cultural landscape, Charles Levie has a lovely color series that was shot in Japan. In “Traditional Bride,” there is a striking contrast between a woman’s glowing white kimono and her dark hair. Similarly, “Coming of Age” presents a purple kimono-clad woman standing in the snow. Certain to make you smile is “Girl and Her Candy,” in which the girl’s face is partly obscured by the cotton candy-textured treat she is eating.
Unlike the other artists in the exhibit, who retain immediately recognizable subject matter, James Lubitz has a digital photographic series titled “Deconstruction.” Most of his photos present such dense overlays of imagery that they become formal exercises in form, line and color; some of the photos, however, have a more spare presentation in which everything is reduced to a few crossed lines and much more open space.
What you won’t realize from looking at these photos is that Lubitz is using photographic snippets derived from a series of photos taken last summer that documented the demolition of the American City Building in downtown Columbia. That building no longer exists, but its deconstruction is suggested by a series in which a once-solid architectural form has been reduced to a study in geometric patterning.
The Creative Imaging Workshop Artists exhibit will be shown through Dec. 14 at Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane in Wilde Lake Village Center in Columbia. Call 410-730-3987 or go to wildelake.org.