Tag Archives: Photography

Aimless Winter Wandering

Wandering with wandering eyes brought us some fine amusements and nourishing reflections recently.

Marco Razo’s work at the Decatur branch library is worth pondering. The brush work suggests long experience, while the paintings’ forms seem to limit themselves to rudimentary symbolism.

Marco Razo, "Las Sandias"

Marco Razo, “Las Sandias”

Across the street from the library, Georgia Perimeter College’s 2-D design class is carrying out a participatory project consisting of two large chalkboards with writing prompts. See more at decaturseedthoughts.tumblr.com. Magnet for floating thoughts.

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Perimeter College design class project

Up in Buckhead, the relatively new Buckhead Atlanta development offers pleasing locations for selfies. Significant facade yardage is given to tasteful if unchallenging art. But then, you’re probably not there to be challenged except in your personal finance.

At Buckhead Atlanta on Buckhead Avenue near the Hermes store

At Buckhead Atlanta on Buckhead Avenue near the Hermes store

A pop-up gallery at Peachtree Road and East Paces Ferry looked promising but was closed temporarily, or perhaps they were “pop-down.” If the website is still up, you might see something useful at starkartpopupgallery.com. We could only peer through the glass door.

Just inside the pop-up appears to be a piece by Karl Kroeppler of Woodstock, GA.

Just inside the pop-up appears to be a piece by Karl Kroeppler of Woodstock, GA.

At the Alan Avery Gallery, Margaret Bowland’s oil paintings were exquisite and challenging. Her pictures of African American girls explore problems of human aesthetics, race, and the construction of identity. High-quality representational technique! On Bowland’s website she says, “I believe in that space—outside the golden circle inhabited by the princess.” We wish Bowland had stayed in the South.

Margaret Bowland, "The Tea Party"

Margaret Bowland, “The Tea Party”

The Bowland experience was heightened by our visit to Jackson Fine Art, with its preview of Gordon Parks’ photographs. Parks’ works are intimate, loving, unflinching, and therefore capture all sorts of dynamic beauties and contradictions.

Gordon Parks, "Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama"

Gordon Parks, “Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama”

We in these parts still have a lot of healing to do. Bless the healing image-makers and those who allow us to appreciate them in this place.

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Floating in a Sea of Light: Public Art on the Atlanta BeltLine

Photographer Dave Lind probably doesn’t get thrown off course much. A certain quality of light can occur every day at twelve minutes past sunset, and he shoots that every day.

But last Saturday night he became a giant goldfish. He floated for two miles from the Old Fourth Ward to Midtown.

Dave Lind floats above other handmade lanterns the superstar of another photographer, Carissa Craven, at lower right.

Dave Lind floats above other handmade lanterns, including the superstar of another photographer, Carissa Craven, at lower right.

How does one become a giant goldfish? Are there any lingering side-effects?

It’s possible that becoming a giant goldfish is itself a side-effect, perhaps the result of making images every day at dusk.

Dave--busy on the evening before his transformation, working the magic.

Dave–busy on the evening before his transformation, working the magic.

Fortunately, the fluid in which Mr. Lind floated was composed of the parade of people carrying lanterns along the Eastside Trail. It was the annual Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade. According to the BeltLine, this event kicks off an annual public art exhibit, which will showcase “over 70 innovative works of performance and visual art from new and returning artists.”

The Lantern Parade made us happy, and more public art will make us even happier.

Lantern Parade as seen from the Freedom Parkway overpass.

Lantern Parade as seen from the Freedom Parkway overpass.

Art in Clayton County: Nice Bricks

You would travel a long way for the sake of art, wouldn’t you? To Paris? To Tokyo?

To Jonesboro, Georgia?

The Arts Clayton Gallery in historic Jonesboro held an opening reception on Friday, June 7, for a showing of several artists’ work. The gallery is on Main Street just down from the beautiful old train depot. The gallery’s interior is an architectural beauty, especially the sexy brick walls.

Gallery staffer Courtney Hurst, at far right, hosted a busy night of art lovers.

Gallery staffer Courtney Hurst, at far right, hosted a busy night of art lovers.

Our favorite piece among the paintings, photographs and ceramics on display, was a photograph by Marla Puziss, who had alerted us to this Jonesboro event. Titled “Fisherman’s Wife,” and apparently shot in Spain, the piece shows a young woman sitting at a boat launch with a baby on her knee. An honest, intimate moment.

Arts Clayton Gallery’s website is not currently updated, but it’s nice to know the Gallery recently hosted the quilts of Gee’s Bend. If you call the Gallery, I’m sure they’ll let you know how long the current show will be up.

Landscapes, idylls and ideas: three artists at Poem 88

At Poem 88 you get something extra, a lagniappe. It’s not a cheapie thrown in like a thirteenth beignet, though. It’s something fully nourishing, a dish in itself. During the current show, it’s the title theme, “Et in Arcadia ego.” Even in that idyllic village, people die. Poem 88 refers you to the paintings that address this idea, and then draws a connection to the works currently on display. It’s delicious.

The three artists in the show make works that refer to a kind of idyllic village.

Allyson Ross shows sculptural works on paper, and they depict scenes from the Yosemite Valley.

Half Dome, detail, by Allyson Ross, via allyson-ross.com

Half Dome, detail, by Allyson Ross, via allyson-ross.com

Ted Fair shows photographs that seem to be from a spirit of purposeful wandering to find the strange juxtapositions in the American landscape.

Untitled, by Ted Fair

Untitled, by Ted Fair

Sean Abrahams shows drawings that manifest an artist’s imagining of a specific cartoon-like wilderness.

Landscape, by Sean Abrahams

Landscape, by Sean Abrahams

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Photography: “Reflected Imagery of the African-American Struggle for Respect”

"Bloody Sunday," Selma, Alabama, March 7, 1965, United Press International for Daily News

“Bloody Sunday,” Selma, Alabama, March 7, 1965, United Press International for Daily News

In the midst of U*Space’s colorful walls, paintings and books, a line of black and white photographs hangs like a shade against sunlight. U*Space’s founder and curator, Terence E. Jackson, selected the photographs from his collection of press images reaching back to the 1940’s. They mainly show African-Americans in the midst of intense conflict with whites.

One might sum up the exhibit by saying these are civil rights movement photographs. However, Jackson selected these images in part because of the inspiration he found in seeing the ordinary people who carried out the struggle. It can feel very limiting to refer to the “civil rights movement” when you’re looking at some of these pictures of people and places you’ve probably never heard of before.

For example, there’s an image on display of a black teenage boy standing up to a white teenage boy who thinks he can dictate who uses the sidewalk. The first boy is pointing a defiant finger in the second boy’s face, while the first boy’s sister stands slightly behind and between the boys. She seems to be looking straight into the camera.

That’s all there is inside the frame–three children. One reaction is, “There’s no ‘movement’ there.” It’s just a fight. Even if the white boy is motivated by racism, and even if the black boy is motivated by anti-racism, what you see is a fight. That means the heat of aggression, the danger of injury and humiliation—all of the things that anyone experiences when doing battle. The directness of the confrontation in this image seems to make the history that’s at issue more present, more palpable, more stomach-turning.

Of course that fight had a context. It’s an image from 1958 in Little Rock, Arkansas. That was the year after the Little Rock 9 enrolled in a high school that was segregated. No wonder the mainstream newspaper photographers had this unique subject matter that sometimes won photojournalism awards: they were pointing their cameras at children going down the sidewalk. Otherwise we might wonder why a street fight was newsworthy.

That picture is one of the few in this collection that identified by name a person captured in the picture. The black boy was identified as Johnny Gray, age 15. The white boy was not identified by name. Do you wonder why not?

Jackson points out another aspect of the courage that is frequently on display in these pictures of police fights and sit-ins and national guard arrests: The African-Americans being photographed lived in the places where they were fighting. These are not pictures of national leaders who were making news by visiting civil rights hot spots. Johnny Gray most likely lived in Little Rock. His sister was probably looking into that camera thinking that her picture might be in the paper and identified by readers as a resister to white supremacy. What individual courage would she have to summon? Who would be available to assist her in fighting off attackers?

U*Space displays the pictures with their original text—the captions and sometimes the original stories. It’s occasionally clear from the newspapers or wire services who wrote about the photographs that they had a point of view, and it wasn’t friendly to the struggle. In reporting on a conflict that occurred in Chicago in the summer of 1964, a news report stated that the strife began “when the white owner of a liquor store accused a Negro woman of trying to steal a fifth of gin. She claimed she had been slapped around. The rumor-mongers embroidered the story and the troublemakers turned it into a full-scale riot.”

It’s distressing to see a couple of rooms full of pictures of white police and national guardsmen fighting with African-Americans. White people’s hatred is made plain here. A club rammed up an African-American man’s crotch. A bulldozer preparing to run over a protester lying prone before it. A policeman swinging a club with great determination to inflict injury, while his own face registers a flinching from the violence. These are ugly facts of our history.

In fact it seems like a history exhibit, with these black and white photographs accompanied by newspaper reporting. So why does U*Space display the exhibit in an art gallery? The simple version of Jackson’s impassioned answer is that, as a curator he is inspired by the struggles and courage and victories of ordinary people. He says he enjoys the fantastic that is found in art, but that reality is a thousand times more brilliant.

“Seems Like I Done Had To Fight My Whole Life” – Reflected Imagery of the African-American Struggle for Respect, at U*Space Gallery on Edgewood Avenue through February 24, 2013.

Update: The U*Space gallery closed, according to an e-mail from owner Terence Jackson on December 2, 2013.