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The Many and the Few

Photo by Sean Wysong
R. H. Stamps's contribution to the CEPA members' show, through January 26.

Members’ show at CEPA Gallery

Like a coat of many colors, photos of many kinds in the current CEPA members’ show. One photo per entrant, plus more extensive exhibits of the work of the two top award-winners from the previous members’ show, Nicole June Wurstner and Megan Metté.

The title of Wurstner’s exhibit is Fragments, which turns out to be body parts—an arm, a leg, a bit of torso, or jumble of parts you can’t distinguish as to just what parts they are, but all with a notably sculptural look, due to the complicated photo processing technique, which the artist describes in detail in a written statement, which makes the subject matter look like ancient, darkened-with-time stone, granite. Reminiscent of some Indian temple décor figures entangled in an eternal dance in equal measures spiritual and erotic.

Megan Metté’s minimalist photos of domestic architecture, architectural features, are stark, chaste, pure almost to the point of puritanical. Devoid of the mess and clutter we often associate with the idea of domestic, if not also the idea of architecture. (Not architecture in the exalted sense of the modernist and post-modernist product we might find depicted in an architecture magazine, but the houses we live in.) Abstraction by subtraction. So that subtle or unnoticeable or generally unnoted features become prominent. The angle of intersection of a wall and ceiling. The gradual change of color tone across a plane surface. The curveed finial of a staircase banister in an environment of otherwise all straight lines and flat planes. Pedestrian features become mysterious. A crawl space passageway with no hint of where it leads. In a written statement, the artist tells of her childhood dreams of essentially an alternative domestic space, as opposed to “the place I called home, a structure that housed feelings of isolation, disappointment, and anger.”

Among the single-entry works, Sean Wysong has a superb photo of two oblique to the picture frame lines of gritty boxcars foreground, against a bleak distant background of red brick industrial buildings, some likely still in current use, others in varying states of abandonment and decay, under a gray sky.

Michael Bosworth’s shot of an abandoned trailer home remnant of the ill-starred Salton Sea community around what turned out to be an ephemeral lake in California represents an actual contemporary Western ghost town—or element of a ghost town—evocative of the ghost towns of Western movies. The Salton Sea phenomenon is a kind of obsessional subject matter for this artist, in light of the many potent literal and metaphorical meanings it readily supports, relating to the natural environment, to human folly, human greed.

In the category of photography of historical events, Mickey H. Osterreicher has a diptych double photo of former President Bill Clinton delivering his speech at the 2012 Democratic convention, one of the great political speeches in the history of presidential campaigning. Maybe the most effective ever in accomplishing—in spades—the considerable set of tasks and objectives it needed to achieve.

In the category of reportorial photography, Britten Walker has a faded monotone of what at first glance looks like a child soldier, in a mountainous terrain, alongside some kind of mortar apparatus. But then on second glance appears to be an American, fully equipped and outfitted in protective gear. While the child soldier initial idea continues to resonate.

Thomas Bittner has a beautiful study in plane and solid geometric pure forms depiction of a grain elevator in sunlight and the shadow of another elevator across the way. Rectangles and cylinders. The peeling paint on the cylinders gives a sense of oil paint on canvas, applied with a palette knife.

R. H. Stamps has a vignette image from a narrative with multiple possible story lines and endings, of a young women observing an obscure scene of revelry (or mayhem) in which she may or may not choose (or be compelled somehow) to participate. As one basic story line, ending completely undetermined.

Irene Haupt’s entry is a blur of floral redundancy above a slash of manipulation artifact across the bottom of the photo.

Kate Parzych’s entry is just the slash of manipulation artifact, in ocean blue, cyanotype.

Alejandro Gutierrez has a modernist cityscape grid mosaic of skyscraper windows reflecting nothing more personal or identifiable than light and color, for the most part, but in one portion of the mosaic a row of Greek columns on a building that could date from a hundred years ago or two thousand.

And Patricia Armstrong has a stunning vivid realist nature scene of a portion of wilderness area in the Georgian Bay region. Bare rocks scoured and scored by glaciers. Precarious lines of dried grasses in the interstices between the rocks. You can almost hear the rustle of the dried grasses in the wind, almost taste the lichens on the rocks.

Works of about seventy members in the show, which continues through January 26.

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