Reviews and Press

 

WHAT WILL YOU REMEMBER? - ELIN SPRING : Peace Be with you

Koichiro Kurita: Freedom of Spirit, HArmony with Nature

Are you ready to welcome some peace back into your life? The serene beauty of Japanese photographer Koichiro Kurita’s platinum palladium landscapes will restore your faith in the world. His solo show Freedom of Spirit, Harmony with Nature is on view at 555 Gallery in South Boston through December 10, 2016.         This is visual therapy at its best.

Concord River II   Catskill, NY©1994 Koichiro Kurita

Concord River II   Catskill, NY©1994 Koichiro Kurita

The idea that humans are one with nature is embraced in Japanese Buddhist tradition and echoed in Western spiritual literature. Decades ago, when Koichiro Kurita encountered a Japanese translation of “Walden” by the celebrated American philosopher Henry David Thoreau, it resonated so deeply with him that he quit his career as a successful commercial photographer and moved to wooded mountain havens in Japan and upstate New York. Now based in New York and Thoreau’s Massachusetts, he continues to unify his philosophy with his artistic practice by using “slow photography” methods in images that portray the mystique of the natural world.

Shooting with an 8”x10” view camera at a low camera angle that might describe the viewpoint of a small woodland animal, Kurita creates contemplative perspectives that emphasize the interfaces between land, water and sky, borders that accentuate the forces of nature. Sometimes using a single negative and other times creating more encompassing views with negatives combined into a careful grid, Kurita prints luscious B&W platinum palladium photographs on handmade Japanese Gampi paper, renowned for its long, smooth fibers that bestow a pearlescent sheen to the images.

Platinum palladium printing is one of the oldest, most stable and visually expressive methods of making photographs in the world. Since each print is created by hand using customized chemical formulas and papers, along with a lot of tinkering and time, every photograph is a unique work of art. More importantly, the method bestows an exquisite range of tones from black to white, subtle gradations that emphasize detail and dimensionality to create particularly sensitive landscapes. Add to that the warm, earthy hues that typify platinum palladium prints and Kurita’s graceful harmony of method and message are realized.

urita’s quiet meditations often focus on a detail in the landscape – a twig caught in a waterfall, droplets of water on leaves of grass, reflections of sky in water – that confer feelings of both intimacy and universality. With deep looking, his elegant balance of compositional elements slowly reveals opposing natural forces. “Still” and “moving” are not only visual perceptions but emotional ones in Kurita’s fluent, wordless poems.

Flood In Forest   Catskill, NY ©2006 Koichiro Kurita

Flood In Forest   Catskill, NY ©2006 Koichiro Kurita

 

Finding beauty in the trash  

Abby Reimer, special to CNN

(CNN) In Steven Duede’s compost bin, beauty exists side by side with decay. Bright-pink roses with black-rimmed petals lay next to brown-splotched bananas and cracked eggshells.

Duede, a photographer based in Boston, first took a picture of his compost bin two and a half years ago. Now, his series "Evanescence" has grown to 40 images -- all showcasing close-up shots of his backyard scraps.

The project began without any lofty ambition. Duede was simply struck by the "beautiful and very chaotic" scene in his bin and grabbed his camera.

"But as I began to view more and more images, I began to get a sense of this theme kind of growing," he said. "You can look at beautiful items up against things that are decaying or breaking away or losing their beauty, and it gives you something that's a bit more thought-provoking about our own transitory state of being."

Duede is used to transition. He spent years working as a painter and mixed-media artist before shifting to photography. The compost images, with their rich colors and varied textures, have the look and feel of a still-life painting.

"These images ... have a lot of elements I was toying with when I was a painter," he said. "When this project began, I felt a real connection to the career that I had for some 20 years previous."

"Evanescence" also expanded on themes of decay and beauty that are present in Duede's other works. In his recent "1-70 Series," Duede captured crumbling service stations along Interstate 70 between St. Louis and Kansas City. Just like "Evanescence," the series features the beauty of the things we toss away.

"I'm so incredibly drawn to those things -- things that formerly had function that are now in a state of degraded transition," he said.

Even after years of shooting, Duede said he is still surprised and inspired by the project. He rarely composes the images, instead letting the weather and the day's waste determine the shots.

"It's constantly changing," he said. "My neighbors also use the compost bin, so I don't always know what I'm going to find. So any given day I can find flora or I'll find the most disgusting rotting banana."

Duede named the series "Evanescence" to reflect the physical and thematic elements of the images. The objects in the compost bin break down into soil and vapor, creating a cycle of growth, decay and renewal that mirrors the human experience of aging and renewal.

Of course, working with compost doesn't always involve such lofty ideas -- Duede had to deal with a face full of flies first.

"Sometimes it's really gross," he said.

What will you remember? - Elin Spring: A Tribute to Vision

When is a rock more than a rock? Or a machine greater than the sum of its parts? When artists have a strong vision, their work can alter the way we perceive the world. When 555 Gallery director Susan Nalband was growing up in Minneapolis, Naives and Visionaries, the 1974 exhibit of contemporary art curated by the legendary director of the Walker Art Center, Martin Friedman, changed her life. Following Friedman’s death this May, Nalband is mounting the show Visionaries as a tribute to the spirit of that transformational show. It features the photography of Walter Crump, Smith Eliot and Cynthia Katz, along with sculptures by Joe Caruso, at 555 Gallery in South Boston through October 22, 2016.

Walter Crump’s penchant for experimentation infuses his dreamlike photographs. Still-lifes he constructs from found objects that strike his fancy – and he especially fancies machine parts – are photographed, disassembled, and digitally merged with translucent textures to create other-worldly images that defy time. Are we looking at the past or future? At once colorfully whimsical and darkly dystopic, Crump’s photographs draw viewers into an excursion of the imagination.

Smith Eliot explores the inner sanctum of the psyche in compositions that unite the corporeal with the natural world. Utilizing a variety of analog cameras, her photographs of women, wildlife and gardens are rife with the symbolism of fertility and mortality. “Alternative processes” such as wet plate collodian tintypes and encaustic on organic surfaces like wood produce lush, sensual images. Some of the unique works on display are encased in antique dry plate frames, adding to the earthy spirituality of Smith’s imagery.

Cynthia Katz celebrates the resilience and frailty of nature in her handmade cyanotypes and collages. Arranging the bounty from her summer garden onto light-sensitive papers (creating camera-less photograms), she develops rich blue cyanotypes using rudimentary chemicals in a method that dates back to the origins of photography. Although straightforward, these techniques produce highly variable outcomes, resulting a delightful array of effects that Katz further manipulates into multi-image frames and sewn collages in abstract expressions of imaginative joy.

Photographers Crump, Eliot and Katz, as well as the sculptor Caruso, all revel in objects they find, either in nature or discarded by others, in their inventive artistic combinations and re-combinations of distinctive work, a fitting tribute to the transformative power of creative vision.

WHAT WILL YOU REMEMBER? - ELIN SPRING:Reinventing family

Gail Samuelson                                                                            Silk Blouse from  Keep it for Luck                                                                                 © 2015

Gail Samuelson                                                                            Silk Blouse from  Keep it for Luck                                                                                 © 2015

 

WHAT WILL YOU REMEMBER? - ELIN SPRING: MIDWINTER NIGHT'S DREAM

March 8, 2016

555 Gallery in South Boston strikes back at winter with its uplifting New Color Messages, a group show flaunting the flamboyant color photographs of Mary Ellen Strom, Patty Carroll, Jeffrey Heyne, Sakura Kelley and Sarah Szwajkos 

WHAT WILL YOU REMEMBER? - ELIN SPRING: things that go bump in the night

September 22, 2015

Well, someone is ready for autumn! 555 Gallery in Boston is embracing the “coming season of mystery, as the days get shorter and the shadows get longer” with their three-person, mixed media show, “Wild Thing”, that will titillate, amuse, and perhaps even startle you through October 17, 2015.

In the premier showing of his newest series, Monsters, photographer Neal Rantoul turns his exacting eye on the conventions of disguise, portraying masks, mannequins and wigs in a big, bright, in-your-face celebration of our cultural heroes – from Barbie to Frankenstein. Are they a distorted view of ourselves? The dissonance between Rantoul’s lifeless mannequins and his vibrant production make this question all the more pointed, in poster-sized prints that are both fun and discomfiting, like an exhilarating, terrifying funhouse ride. But there is more than meets the eye here, and I cannot do it justice in this space.  Luckily, there is an excellent and inexpensive exhibition catalog available for Monsters, in which the renowned arts writer Alison Nordstrom goes deliciously deep.

The young street artist MA-Zing makes his first gallery appearance with fantastical, painted dreamscapes in his series, Night Moves. With dynamic caricatures of bats, bears and kids that come screaming out of the wall at you, he gives life to his wildest dreams. But the potentially frightening monsters are rendered harmless through MA-Zing’s primitive and bold artistry. These fanciful paintings are enchanting to kids of any age.

In a gauzy, sumptuously furnished den curtained off at the front end of the gallery, Tamara Al-Mashouk presents her 2-channel video installation, Angel Eye. In it, we witness the Brooklyn fortune teller Angel plying her trade on one track and, in the other, donning a rabbit head and wielding a microphone to induce the haunting sounds of the Theremin, an early electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the performer. Surreal is putting it mildly. This installation positively gave me the chills. Fascinated by the “construction and breakdown of identity and façade” of the self and between the characters she encounters, Al Mashouk confirms again that truth can be stranger than fiction. It seems that in much of art, the more realistic the depiction, the more frightening things are – and, to me, this was definitely the scariest thing in the gallery.  “Wild Thing” gives you three ways to have fun and goosebumps at the same time.

The Boston Globe - Mark Feeney: Danforth Art biennial showcases 55 photographers

September 11, 2015

Edie Bresler’s “We Sold a Winner (Borderline Cantina, CO).”

Edie Bresler’s “We Sold a Winner (Borderline Cantina, CO).”

FRAMINGHAM — Danforth Art’s latest “New England Photography Biennial” features work by 55 photographers. Juror Susan Nalband, of 555 Gallery, made the selection, choosing from more than 300 New England photographers who submitted. 

Part of the pleasure the show has to offer — it runs through Dec. 6 — is how far beyond the region it goes. Five of the six New England states are represented (no Vermont), but we also get to see Romania, Ecuador, Cuba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Argentina, and those most exotic of all locales, the past and the imagination.

Sometimes it’s a recent past, and quite local, as in Dirk Ahlgrim’s “Snow Farm 1.” Taken earlier this year, it brings back memories of last winter’s onslaught. The picture is rather overwhelmingly large, 40 inches by 73 inches (try melting that), but the way Ahlgrim uses the yellow of snow-removal equipment, the white of snow, and the gray of general winter-ness is arresting in the extreme.

Most of the photographs are color, which, as with Ahlgrim, is often used to excellent effect. The act-of-God hues that fill the sky in Edie Bresler’s “We Sold a Winner (Borderline Cantina, CO)” look as if a rainbow has exploded. The way that a woman’s carmine lipstick chimes with the ` red topping of the cake she’s holding in Elizabeth Albert’s “A Long Time Ago” is as striking as the photograph’s play of planes and relationship between past and present. The shade of salmon pink on the bungalow exterior in Walter Landry’s “Pleasure Beach” is very pleasurable indeed.

There are numerous curatorial grace notes. Steve Genatossio’s beat-up trailer hangs next to Landry’s comparably beaten-up bungalow, which hangs next to Robert Moran’s early-model sedan. All that car needs is a hitch to be the perfect vehicle for towing that trailer. Or there’s the placement of Daniel Clapp’s three portraits of Boston street people catercorner to Michael Joseph’s three portraits of younger street people. (Clapp and Joseph are among the few photographers with more than one image in the biennial.)

Walter Landry’s “Pleasure Beach 1.”

Walter Landry’s “Pleasure Beach 1.”

Several of the photographers self-curate, as one might say. They allude to or reimagine the work of other photographers. Bob Olshansky’s “Anthony & Heather” is a two-person nude. Anthony, a plus-size male, bears more than a passing resemblance to the figure in John Coplans’s saggy, baggy self-portraits. Jim Baab’s “Jawbone Pond” shows a rock formation that looks uncannily like a nose — thus turning inside out Arno Rafael Minkkinen’s photographs of his own body to look like part of the surrounding environment. Both Mark Eshbaugh and Doug Johnson employ grids (of a Chelmsford landscape and lines created in swathes of sand, respectively), an employment that nicely triangulates with David Ricci’s also-gridded “Which Winch.” The Ricci is a twofer: the title recalling Eva Ibbotson’s enchantingly titled children’s novel, “Which Witch?,” and the subject matter being very much in the line of the most famous photographic employers of grids, Bernd and Hilla Becher.

As for Robert Avakian’s “Firefly” and Susan Richards’s “Moth (Studio Noir),” they take us to the very heart of photography. Both center on vivid splashes of light, rectangular or nearly so. They remind us that curation and color and allusion and composition and framing and cropping and the rest are nothing without illumination. If photography were a Faulkner novel, it’d be “Light in August” — and every other month, too.

PHOTOGRAPH - EDIE BRESLER: THE HUMAN DIORAMA: BEAR KIRKPATRICK

JULY 19, 2015

Viewing photographs and videos by Bear Kirkpatrick reminds me of a magic show. I know there are tricks behind each sleight of hand, but because the performance is so adroit, surrendering to the fantasy is easy. Kirkpatrick also has a family lineage that traces back to an amalgam of heretics, puritans, judges, and witches. Opposition and conflict are literally in his blood, and he’s made them an intrinsic part of his creative process.

The Human Diorama (2015) sets the stage for this show at 555 Gallery, on view through August 1. Two large female figures are head-locked to resemble a pair of fighting antelopes. With their heads hidden behind a single shock of blond hair, it looks as though it could be the id struggling with its superego. Similar psychological battles are at work in the series Hierophanies I and II. Kirkpatrick photographs female friends and acquaintances in remote, uncultivated locations. The addition of artificial light against a dark and moody landscape creates a heightened sense of theater, where figures morph into mythological versions of themselves struggling toward a more primal existence.

For the largest group of portraits, titled The Old Ones, head coverings and thick layers of clay on naked torsos become a canvas on which Kirkpatrick embeds allegorical imagery around a pristine face. His post-production handiwork is so skillful the results are seamless. Most of the imagery comes from 16th- and 17th-century paintings, like saints and sinners from The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch or a wintry Dutch landscape by Hendrick Avercamp. Recently, he began using his own landscape photographs – of barren trees surrounding a vernal pond, for example – rather than borrowing imagery from paintings. There is a lot to look at, and parsing through the iconography is part of the pleasure of this work, which invites viewers to get lost in a parallel reality.

artscopeJohn Paul Stapleton: Bear Kirkpatrick: The Human Diorama at 555 Gallery

july 16, 2015

555 Gallery is currently host to a photography exhibit that goes beyond the present to explore the depths of human nature. In “The Human Diorama,” Bear Kirkpatrick, has brought together portraits and other pieces from his many series to show how people interact with — and adapt — to the natural world.“We are all a learned thing — an ever-gathering and ever-adjusting animal,” Kirkpatrick explains in his artist statement. “It is those traits that I use my camera to find, if only for 1/200th of a second. They are the ghosts of presence and memory, the vestigial elements we carry within and about us as invisibly as spirits.”

These portraits, as the name of the exhibit suggests, are Kirkpatrick’s response to the dioramas he was fascinated by as a kid, but they are displayed, for the most part, on the body of his subject. Now, instead of creating images that explain how groups would interact with a specific environment, he creates a diorama focusing on how the individual instinctually adapts and grows with its surroundings. “Art can be a tool of discovery, it can use science, it can explore,” Kirkpatrick said in a recent interview. “There’s an aesthetic realm to the image, but what else is there?” Just as people have evolved to have different instincts, Kirkpatrick’s methods of creating these dioramas have evolved. In the beginning, subjects would be wrapped in cloth revealing only their face, to place them directly into a well-known painting that hints at how humans interpreted their environments at the time of its creation. This method then moved onto Kirkpatrick covering his models in clay and sticking objects to them such as seeds and other plant materials. This brings an equal focus on the model’s extravagant coating and the painting juxtaposed on them, moving on from interpretation to direct interaction.

In his newest portraits, Kirkpatrick has left paintings behind and uses landscape photographs that he has taken himself to place his models in, but also has moved from plant material to the next step in the kingdoms of life — bugs. “Ruari: Euchroma Gigantea” is one of his newest dioramas; it features a model covered in the bugs named in the title. The bugs are gathered on the neck completely covering it as if to show suffocation by the species. This dark feeling is enhanced by the landscape he is placed in which is dark, gray and raining as can be seen by the disturbances in the body of water behind the model. Along with the still life portraits, Kirkpatrick has also created video portraits. These videos are a mix of small bursts of video mixed in with edited photographs blended in a seamless way. The pieces are all shot with 4k cameras, the highest resolution currently possible, and come complete with a soundtrack to aid the ominous images. The most recent example of this is “Sage: Heterometrus Laoticus,” in which the model’s neck is covered in scorpions and placed in front of an ever-changing landscape. The viewer, at first, doesn’t notice anything specifically moving besides the slight motion of the model and the intentionally slowed blinking. As the video goes on, it becomes noticeable that the scorpions on her neck start to curl their tails in and out to match the changing light and weather of the landscape behind her.

Kirkpatrick’s stunning images shed light on how humans fundamentally affect and are affected by their environment in a way that’s accessible to observers of art and science alike. The growth and development of his concept provides a visible progression in the timeline of his work that upholds aesthetic pleasure since the beginning and leads to a hopeful future for his striking portraits.

This exhibit provides a glimpse of that timeline and is not worth missing for anyone interested in this brand of directorial photography that Kirkpatrick has installed at 555 Gallery. (Bear Kirkpatrick: The Human Diorama continues through August 1 at 555 Gallery, 555 East Second Street, Boston. until August 1. For more information, call (857) 496-7234.

What will you remember? - Elin spring: A fantastic trip! "The human Diorama"

july 1, 2015

Imagine this: realizing the full complement of your storied past – biological, sociological, psychological – in a photographic work of art. This intriguing, unconventional and truly boundless idea has proved irresistible to Bear Kirkpatrick, who has been pursuing it with multidimensional passion. You can experience the rich fruits of his labor at his solo exhibit “The Human Diorama” at 555 Gallery in South Boston through August 1, 2015.

It all started with casting a somewhat outlandish, if logical, query: if we inherit our physical traits genetically, why can’t other historic traits be embedded in our DNA? Kirkpatrick hunts for the spirit of an ancestral past that he suspects may be personified in the carnal, psychological and environmental settings we inhabit today. His collaborative exploration with photographic subjects is organic, even visceral, wherein Kirkpatrick encourages them to adopt their most rudimentary selves by stripping away the modern trappings of clothing. Then, offerings from the earth, sea and sky are introduced by applying layers of mud, feathers and other forms of nature to subject and surrounding alike. This ritualistic exercise encourages Kirkpatrick’s subjects to explore and embrace the whole of their past and present identities. And it is quite the happening, played out most recently at the opening event for this exhibit at 555 Gallery on Saturday afternoon, June 27th. There was a great turnout but, if you missed this, evidence remains in the form of muddy handprints from each of the subjects on one of the gallery walls.

When he initiated this undertaking, Kirkpatrick had his subjects assume the characters of historic figures, such as Charles Willson Peale, or illustrate events like The Wreck of the Hollandia, appropriating famous wall portraits to project onto his sets and subjects. As the work progressed, Kirkpatrick’s vision grew to encompass other allusions, like the erotically graphic Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, the most famous “shunga” piece by the same Hokusai now being exhibited at the MFA, Boston (suffice it to say, you won’t see anything like this there.) These multi media installations feature a photographic work surrounded by several one-of-a-kind objects – like the rattlesnake’s tail, an object of fear in “Leigh: The Mockingbird’s Nest” – that serve as highlights and clues to the photograph, enriching and contextualizing it. These newer works endeavor to reveal something of the sitter’s unique background and incorporate photographic sets created by Kirkpatrick himself – as in his almost life-sized “Human Diorama”.

Now children have entered into Kirkpatrick’s lexicon, adding a unique dimension to his intense search for the origins of self. Rather than gleeful innocents, these youngsters are soulful, their guileless gazes, arresting. In fact, Kirkpatrick has employed the aptly named “Sage” to advantage in the development of his latest project, “Moving Portraits”. A small, darkened room of 555 Gallery plays host to a 5-minute loop of “Sage”, set before a rolling field with moody skies. Kirkpatrick has created a soundtrack that combines musical segments, wind, thunder, songbirds and bugs to complement slowly shifting changes in the frame: subtle motion (eyes blinking, chest breathing), coloring and de-saturating, brightening and darkening, the sharpening and softening of focus. It is yet another incarnation of Kirkpatrick’s imaginative journey. A trip fantastic.

What Will You Remember?- Elin Spring: "Under Astral Skies"

january 7, 2015

What an uplifting way to start the New Year!  A mingling of photorealistic, abstract and conceptual visions of our universe appear in “Under Astral Skies”, now at 555 Gallery in South Boston through February 14, 2015.  The heavenly skies envisioned by photographers Jim Nickelson, Amy Friend, Christopher Wright and Corinne Schulze proffer imaginative interpretations in a deliciously mind-expanding atmosphere.

Jim Nickelson’s quest to capture each full moon of the year from somewhere in Maine renders an enchanting series, with orbs poised above a hazy horizon, dancing in cotton candy clouds, glowering over raging seas and everything in between.  These moons are so nuanced that they seem possessed of emotion.  But in Nickelson’s Pyrotechnic series, a body of work that commands most of the gallery, B&W abstractions of actual fireworks confer the impression of spectacular night skies or pure mathematical theorems soaring to life (feature image).  Whether real or imagined, all of Nickelson’s mesmerizing images embody the rhythms, cycles and wonder of the natural world.

Constellations are scattered throughout the vintage photographs in Amy Friend’s series Dare Alla Luce (Italian for “to bring to the light”, in reference to birth).  Friend creates pinpoint, starry lights to bring new life to the subjects in her antique pictures, accentuating the fragility of our existence.  The prints she alters are simultaneously lost and reborn, granting her images an otherworldly life.  Friend’s inspired compositions, filled with buoyancy and soul, allow us to glimpse only a mysterious fragment of the story, not unlike the universe we inhabit.

For Corinne Schulze, dust is the vector to astral skies.  In her series Stardust, she utilizes the dust left behind by ancient anthropological specimens photographed in her studio as a visual analogy for the universe.  The patterns evoke celestial formations, bringing to mind the religiously intoned phrase, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”, reminding us that everything returns to the elements from which it was created over the millennia.  By presenting a micro view that suggests a macro vision, Schulze’s effervescent imagery becomes a conceptual mind bender.

Christopher Wright sets his gaze on the Milky Way in his series Night in Color.  Perched around the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Wright capitalizes on the offshore, crystalline sky and the glassy reflections of his Atlantic surroundings to bring us breath-taking views of our personal slice of outer space.  Wright’s glorious images possess a wide and humbling perspective, an invitation to meditate on our position in the universe.

The variety of cosmic visions from Nickelson, Friend, Schulze and Wright are as tantalizing as they are enchanting to behold.  Whether you favor the spectacle of an abstracted night sky, an expressive moonrise, awe-inspiring Milky Way, or the existential symbolism of starlight, “Under Astral Skies” packs an emotional punch.  Truly compelling in person, 555 Gallery offers one of the first places on earth you’ll want to visit in the New Year.

Lenscratch- Aline Smithson:"Camille Seaman: Melting Away" 

December 15, 2014

“There is a numinous and extraordinary presence in Camille’s work. In it, we see the difference between nature photography and art. It is the gift of every great photographer to show us what was concealed and invisible to our minds. This cannot be done with a viewfinder alone. It is the heart that sees the unseen. It is the artist who, in this case, dedicates years of her life so that we can see with new eyes.” 

—Paul Hawken, author of The Ecology of Commerce and Blessed Unrest

What will you remember?- Elin Spring: "Finding the Sacred on the Sacred River"

December 16, 2014

Guest Blog by Alyssa Minahan, with Elin Spring

Documentary photographer Brenda Bancel set out on a two-week trip to the Hindu spiritual festival in Varanasi, India for a workshop led by award-winning photojournalist John Stanmeyer with the idea of capturing meditative images.  Instead, she was confronted with the harsh reality of the region – poverty, disease and death. For the first leg of her trip, these were the images, thoughts and smells that defined her experience – until something unexpected happened

A group of children, beggars selling prayer candles, asked Bancel for a ride on the boat she had hired to take her across the Ganges River. These nine boys and girls would become her captivating subjects in a documentary project that became “Finding the Sacred on the Sacred River,” now showing at 555 Gallery through December 20th, 2014.

The exhibition captures Bancel’s spiritual quest to find light in the darkest of places.  Urged by Stanmeyer to push her boundaries and photograph unsavory subjects, Bancel eschewed recording the sensational suffering of the people she encountered.  Rather, she chose to focus on the transcendence and symbols of hope she discovered in the children of Varanasi.  Despite daunting conditions of squalor, they were first and foremost children, reveling in treats of cotton candy, rides on a boat and swimming in the calm, clean side of the river.  Their guileless expressions speak a universal language.

The show is dominated by large, colorful photographs of children running on the wide sandy shore and performing somersaults into the river below. By emptying the frame of any reference to the conditions in which the children live, Bancel creates a sense of spaciousness and serenity. Her soft palette of pastels reinforces a sense of optimism.

The vibrant pink of cotton candy or bright green sequins on a girl’s dress accent the carefree abandon.  While these stand in sharp contrast to images of the same children perched in their small, cramped homes or begging on the street for rice, Bancel’s emphasis is clearly on the pure and humbling wonder of youthful spirit.

Taken together, the images in this exhibition reveal how one woman’s photographic expedition led to dual revelations: the universality of childhood hopefulness and the discovery by Bancel of her own spiritual compass.  Those seeking the spirit of the season will relish this transformative journey.

 

What will you remember?- Elin spring: "Arboreal Ardor at 555 Gallery"

November 18, 2014

Trees Grow and Fall”, a visually stunning and enchanting multi-media exhibit by the documentary photographer Nassar K, is now at 555 Gallery in South Boston through December 6, 2014.  A celebration of both the beauty and rich resource that trees provide, the artist paid careful attention to the use of his subject matter here.  Prints were created through a heat transfer process onto aluminum, printing onto recycled craft paper and the creation of postcard-sized collectors box sets.

The core of Nassar’s message is mindfulness, the very thing that gave rise to his project in the first place.  Reviewing pictures he’d once taken around Brooklyn, the marginalization of trees within the urban landscape jumped out at him, and he began to look for other examples in a dedicated way.   Sadly, it didn’t take much sleuthing to find trees in a range of locales “being pushed back by newly built structures; some were fenced out like prisoners, others were replaced by (utility) poles made with their own corpses.”

Perhaps the ascribing of some human characteristics to the trees can be attributed to Nasser’s theatrical background, but thankfully he’s no activist on a strident rant.  Rather, he uses his exquisite photographs to advocate for thoughtful utilization of this precious resource.  It may be art with a message, but first and foremost it is art.  I was especially taken with his aluminum-mounted images.  Famous for conferring luminosity, Nasser’s aluminum prints also had a 3-D quality that was mesmerizing.  Although shot digitally on a DSLR (a traditional 35mm format), the crisp definition had me all but convinced they must’ve been taken with at least a medium format camera.

Whether presented on radiant aluminum, contrasty brown craft paper, or as ecological, miniature portfolio collections, all images are printed in B&W, providing both cohesion and variety.  By printing in monochrome, Nasser heightened dramatic effect through the emphasis on compositional lines and lush textures.  Tension created through the juxtaposition of trees with buildings and other surroundings is further accentuated by the rich tonal separation in the prints.  To peak our awareness, Nasser has included not only urban trees but those in forests and fields, those standing majestically and those felled, often put side by side in poignant contrast.

As an overall experience, “Trees Grow and Fall” has lovely integration and depth.  In addition to Nassar’s variety of print types, 555 Gallery owner Susan Nalband, a photographer in her own right, has made the rare contribution of a captivating three-dimensional slide show featuring one of her tree studies on one wall in the gallery.  The entry wall has been invitingly collaged with phrases and mixed media in tribute to arboreal splendor.  Miniature fir trees dot the gallery.  It’s also worth mentioning that many of Nasser’s prints are very affordable, just in case you’re looking for some truly special gifts.  ”Trees Grow and Fall” is an exhibit that keeps on giving, just like trees themselves.

 

WHAT WILL YOU REMEMBER?- ELIN SPRING: "Otherworldly visions in Boston"

October 21, 2014

Guest Blog by Keith Johnson with Elin Spring

Devil’s Promenade, a collaborative photographic project exploring the myth of the Spook Light in the Ozark Hills by Lara Shipley and Antone Dolezal is sparking a conversation with Neal Rantoul’s Mutter Museum (Phildelphia) and Spallanzini Collection (Italy) photographic studies of sometimes deformed anatomical specimens on the walls of 555 Gallery in South Boston through November 8, 2014.  In two very differently imagined and crafted groups of pictures, the styles of these bodies of work couldn’t be more different.  They express artistic interests that seem opposite in nature, while in fact exploring our very nature.

I spent an hour in the gallery with these photographs wondering why I felt uneasy.  The pictures from Devil’s Promenade depict people living off the grid in the Ozarks.  They are all emotion – the laying-on of hands to heal and to connect.  Lara and Antone spent a good deal of time developing trust amongst the subjects so they’d be virtually invisible and non-intrusive while photographing alien-seeming people and rituals.  The photographs manifest tension in the pose, the timing, gestures and proximity and, although the pictures are of people and place, the subject is always the underlying emotion.

By contrast, Neal Rantoul’s pictures are finely crafted, beautifully lit, and exquisitely printed.  Neal cut his photographic teeth with big cameras and places emphasis on craft and beauty.  His pictures of abnormal and deformed forensic specimens shot in the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia and of odd and beguiling medical cases in the Civic Museum in Reggio Emilia, Italy (the Spallanzini Collection) can be downright unsettling, even creepy.  The collision of sublime photographic composition and technique with content including horrible injury or malformation causes a tension that arrests the viewer’s attention.Whether studying those who are philosophically alien in the Ozarks or the remains of those bearing anatomical abnormalities, the work of these photographers raises gripping and insistent questions about the nature of being human.  Admittedly disquieting, the work is fascinating and rewarding in its depth of feeling.  And it’s appropriately spooky enough for Halloween.

Art New ENgland- Elizabeth Delvin: "Five Gallerists Discuss their STRATEGIES for a new economy"

September/October Print Edition

The Boston Globe- Cate McQuaid: "'Far From Indochine' reflects modern Southeast Asia"

September 24, 2014

Then there is the earth itself, trampled by industry and demands for energy. Garth Lenz’s photographs of the Alberta Tar Sands and Canada’s magnificent boreal forest, which tar mining threatens, are on view at 555 Gallery.

Lenz often shoots from a plane, finding stunning patterns in the landscape below. “Boreal Forest and Wetland, Athabasca Delta, Northern Alberta” and “Tar Pit #3, Alberta Tar Sands” hang side by side. They sport similar snaking curves. But in “Boreal Forest,” those curves mark the contours of a startlingly blue river, coiling through golden autumnal woods, and in “Tar Pit #3,” they are mining roads, ribboning around sickly, orange-green pools and knobby, rutted, scarred earth.

Whether he’s photographing industry or landscape, Lenz gives his image massive scope, high-resolution detail, and a keen sense of shape, pattern, and texture — he seeks and finds abstraction in landscapes. “Tailings Pond in Winter, Abstract #1, Alberta Tar Sands” and “Aspen and Spruce, Northern Alberta” have the same sense of being covered in pale textures, interrupted by veined darkness — a spruce, in the first case, and in the second, dark oily strands among ice, sand, and wavering traces of water.

Like Lenz, Lisa Wiltse photographs impacts of the energy industry. She visited urban slums in Manila, where children are put to work gathering scraps of wood to make charcoal. One image in the “Charcoal Kids of Ulingan” series shows a little boy, no more than 5, pausing from his labor to wipe the soot from his face with his shirt.

Lenz depicts how our hunger for energy scars the earth; Wiltse’s photos of child labor, extreme poverty, and miserable working conditions reveal the human cost, and remind us — as “Far From Indochine” does — of how indifferent to ordinary people economic powers can be.

Boston Magazine- Yiqing Shao: 555 "Gallery's Lastest Exhibition Presents Stark Images in 'Global Warning'" 

September 12, 2014

Currently on view at 555 Gallery are works by two photographers who bring new light to the effects of fuel production today.

In an exhibit titled “Global Warning: An Exhibition on Carbon-Based Fuel Production in the 21st Century,” images taken by Garth Lenz and Lisa Wiltse show us what’s at stake in the fight for oil and other resources.

In “The True Cost of Oil,” Lenz’s photography looks at the environmental and ecological costs of the Keystone XL Pipeline and “tar sands” mining. His sweeping landscapes are both beautiful and daunting, as they show what environments are at risk and how the hunt for oil threatens the survival of those ecosystems. The contrast between his breathtaking landscapes of nature undisturbed to those of tar sands mining sites gives us a sense of doom and gloom.

While Lenz shoots from the skies, Lisa Wiltse gets personal on the ground with “The Charcoal Kids of Ulingan.” Her work shows scenes from a Manila community where people live in highly unhealthy circumstances. The locals are exposed to dangerous emissions like carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and soot, and according to the exhibit description, estimates suggest that 60 percent of the population has tuberculosis. Children are a “vital portion of the work force” in this dangerous environment.

“In the work of each photographer, we discover both the tragedy of our existence on earth, but also the possibility and the shear wonder and tenacity of both the human and natural spirit. While each situation marches us on the path of climate change, each also demonstrates quite profoundly why we should care,” writes curator Glenn Ruga.

What Will You Remember?- Elin Spring: "Truth and Consequences"

September 11, 2014

It’s up to you.  That message rings loud and clear in “Global Warning”, the photography show guest curated by Glenn Ruga, at 555 Gallery in South Boston through October 4, 2014.   Contradictions abound in an exhibit featuring Garth Lenz’s panoramic color aerials of the Alberta Tar Sands in Canada and Lisa Wiltse’s gritty journalistic images of slum kids scraping together charcoal in Manila, the Philippines.

First of all, the sweeping scale and vibrant colors of Garth Lenz’s photographs are breathtaking.  Many are undeniably gorgeous, the others just awe-inspiring.  In a project he calls “The True Cost of Oil”, shouldn’t we feel more disgusted?  Lenz thinks not.  He was drawn to the Canadian boreal forest ecosystem, the world’s greatest terrestrial storehouse of carbon, by its astonishing, pristine beauty.

First and foremost a photographer after great images, Lenz took regular aerial forays over the boreal forest of his native Canada, the largest and most intact of its kind left on Earth.  What he found in the middle of this ecosystem was the northern Alberta Tar Sands, the world’s third largest oil reserves.  It was pure destiny.

An enterprise of epic proportions, the Tar Sands are the world’s largest energy project, wreaking destruction on the surrounding forests to produce oil in a process that is grievously inefficient.  Paradoxically, vast mines, tailings ponds filled with toxic waste, and the fires and fumes of oil production create their own weather systems, leading to strangely lovely and otherworldly light conditions.

Amazingly, the Alberta Tar Sands tailings ponds are so enormous that they can be seen from space.  So it is sadly ironic that Lenz’s aerial photographs of sky reflected in the toxic and oily waste water of these ponds combine to produce some dramatically beautiful abstract images.

Lisa Wiltse’s series “The Charcoal Kids of Ulingan” takes us from Canada to the Philippines, from eyes in the skies to feet in the soot.  Her photojournalistic narrative follows young urban slum dwellers trying to survive by making charcoal from collected bits of wood.  Wiltse’s work illustrates the other extreme of carbon production, small-scale and personal.

The continuously burning coal produces an atmosphere of toxic fumes, creating similarly photogenic lighting conditions to those Lenz experienced in the skies over the Alberta Tar Sands.  In affectingly symbolic images, Wiltse contrasts the supple shapes of the children’s perfect young bodies against the sharp elements of their harsh environment.  This dystopia is no place for such innocents.

From Canada to Asia, from a vast corporate enterprise to personal manufacturing from scraps, “Global Warning” delivers some appalling truths and illustrates the scope of the consequences we face if we fail to address our dependence on fossil fuels.  The triumph of this show is that rather than shocking the viewer into submission, Lenz and Wiltse draw you in with photographs that are visually and emotionally compelling.

And then, it’s up to you.

Boston Globe,  Cate McQuaid: "Burr Tallies Experiences Poignantly"

July 8, 2014

Hannah Burr makes abstract sculptures that represent real experiences. In her show at 555 Gallery, she assigns particular objects — blocks of wood, ribbons — to specific increments of an experience. The accumulation of objects then embodies a memory. The results are strangely risible and poignant.

She chooses experiences mundane and extraordinary. For “Interval Between Appointments” she counted cars passing (wooden wedges), bites taken (petals of lavender fabric), intervals of quiet (ocher strips), and texts received (pebbly gray-black pieces of hard foam). It’s all piled in a jumble on a corner shelf. She tucks the little ocher strips between the edges and planes of the wood like cushions. The lavender bursts read like tiny oases. The whole oddly captures waiting.

The small, intimate "My Father's Last Day" counts labored breaths, tender moments, physical contact with family, and lucid intervals. The breaths - panels of pale wood - lean into one another, some short, some long. The lucid intervals, held by slips of pink paper, are infrequent. In this piece, the economy of Burr's system, goofily effective in other works (she has a frothy rendering of the movie "Clueless"), takes on gravity, distilling her experience of her father's final moments into a sculptural haiku, delicate and powerful. 

Burr has several small abstract drawings, paintings, and sculptures on view, as well. In her attention to material and form, her abstract work has always conveyed something awkward and nervy. This new approach to depicting experience (who knows, maybe she has been doing it all along; doesn’t good art always represent the ineffable?) gives viewers a clear way in. She is explicit in her details, even as she abstracts them. We look at her stand-ins for real life, and we relate.

Photographer Gail Samuelson also has a small show at 555. Her digital photos of water's glimmery surface are all too familiar, but her images of a swamp bathed in creamy late afternoon light, such as "Beaver Swamp, Fall #1" feel otherworldly. The sky has a hint of tangerine, which, together with the pale, blue-green standing water infuses this forested area with light; it feels at once dense and sparse. Surely, it is a magical place. 

What Will You Remember?- Elin Spring: "Meditations on Change at 555 Gallery"

June 30, 2014

On a recent visit to 555 Gallery in South Boston, I was greeted by a conversation between photographer Gail Samuelson’s “Fluid Terrain” and “Stand In”, Hannah Burr’s sculptures and mixed media.  Although these are divergent forms of artistic expression, they are borne out of each artist’s work in meditation.

Gail Samuelson explores the transformation of the forest near her home in Sherborn into a swampy reflection pond when beavers dam the brook flowing through it.  Her 22″x33″ color photographs present the sweep of the forest, floor to ceiling, as well as impressionistically textured close-ups of the changeable skies and trees reflected in the newly created pools.  In contrast, her two expansive images of Nauset Inlet on the Cape highlight clear, tranquil waters, the permanence of rocks, and the beauty of open and undisturbed horizons.

The fanciful sculptures and drawings of Hannah Burr use materials like wood, paper and fabric as symbolic “stand ins” for personal “pile ups” of everything from artifacts such as rocks and minerals to identities and “other kinds of tenuous and shifting structures”.  We see how both Samuelson and Burr are inspired by the cycles in nature, meditating on the internal and external changes in their worlds.

This show will be on exhibit through July 26, 2014.  For more information and directions, go to:http://www.555gallery.com/exhibitions/#/upcoming-exhibition/

Boston Globe- Cate McQuaid:An expressionist pioneer at ACME Fine Art”

June 3, 2014

Irina Rozovsky’s photographs of Cuba, up at 555 Gallery in “Cultural [Divide],” a sharp group show featuring artists delving into particular societies, have the lush tropical tones found in many photos of that island. But she uses those aquas and sunny blues to accentuate a sense of isolation. One has us looking through a green-blue hatch at a water cooler beyond, which, like the hatch, has an aqua glow, but it sits in a pile of dirt and rubble.

Other photos (they’re all untitled) avoid the hue. One image of a pale monkey seated on a pipe, with its head thrown back like Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard,” shimmers with shadowy pinks and grays. The monkey seems utterly human, lonely and daunting. Throughout, Rozovsky doesn’t answer any questions — she presents us with the mystery she sees.

Todd Danforth, meanwhile, portrays his own family in images filled with toughness and tenderness. In “Almost Home” Danforth’s stooped grandfather, in a wheelchair, approaches a car; he looks fragile compared with the two rugged men there to help him. There’s a similar dynamic in Cassandra Giraldo’s untitled color photos from “The Gentle Punks” series about young activists she met in Russia, banding together on the outskirts of society. Their youthful defiance, riskier in Russia than here, makes them seem all the more vulnerable.

What Will You Remember?- Elin Spring:“'Cultural [Divide]’ at 555 Gallery"

May 22, 2014

555 Gallery in South Boston is currently hosting “Cultural (Divide)”, the new work of three documentary photographers who delve into isolated subcultures to reveal both outward differences and surprising similarities.  Cassandra Giraldo’s Russian punks, Irina Rozovsky’s Cuba and Todd Danforth’s rural Massachusetts family offer glimpses into vastly different environments.  The photographers, however, share a palpably humane viewpoint.

In her series “The Gentle Punks”, Cassandra Giraldo follows a group of teenage punks from St. Petersburg, Russia as they roam one step ahead of a police state that treats them as criminals.

What would otherwise seem a normal stage of rebellion takes on a cloak of danger for this outcast confederacy.  Giraldo conveys the punks’ craving for self-expression and community in images that often emphasize shadow and light, accentuating their bleak feelings of alienation contrasted with their youthful spirit of longing.  Giraldo’s photographs carry a universality that drives home the point that these are all just kids, regardless of their circumstance.

In her series “Island On My Mind”, Irina Rozovsky conveys the essence of the Cuban experience through large, vivid images that capture the details of ordinary living.

By capitalizing on lively tropical colors and focusing on some unusual particulars of everyday scenes, Rozovsky allows us to nearly feel the heat and smell the aromas in her photographs.  Her images are carefully framed and often isolate the details of a larger story that the viewer is invited to imagine.  By concentrating on individual elements, Rozovsky enlarges our sensation of them, imbuing her collection with a feeling of fleeting fond memories.

In his series “A Portrait of a Family”, Todd Danforth photographs his own extended family in rural Massachusetts, simultaneously making universal statements about human frailties and grace.

Danforth allows the viewer to witness the weight of his family’s struggles and, although their afflictions are left vague, his portrayals are rich in nuance.  We can perceive their shared sense of duty, stoic perseverance and tacit love.  Danforth’s compositions often isolate figures within the frame and his palette can feel bleak and subdued.  Nonetheless, his images nearly always include a bright light source, an undercurrent of compassion and hope.

While highlighting the unique features of three far-flung subcultures, the photographs of Danforth, Giraldo and Rozovsky share a humanity that reveals the essential commonalities that all people share.  This exhibit runs through June 14, 2014.  For more information and directions, go to:http://www.555gallery.com/

 

What Will You Remember?- Elin Spring: “'Ravishing’ at 555 Gallery”

April 2, 2014

Ravishing”: breathlessly beautiful, overwhelming, transporting.  A word used to describe the extraordinary.  In the group exhibit of the same name at Boston’s newest photography venue, 555 Gallery, five photographers reach beyond physical beauty to delve into facets of female strength and spirit.  Interestingly, almost all of the artists have explored the visual representation of qualities that are usually invisible to the naked eye by incorporating some sort of head or body covering.

The impetus for this show came from the work of Jonathan Stark, whose collection “Emergence” focuses on the transformation of women who have undergone a physical or psychological ordeal and emerged stronger.  Stark’s subjects coat, streak and letter their bodies with mud which cracks and falls away to reveal the skin beneath as a metaphorical expression of their inner transitions.  Stark’s approach is multi-faceted, from sensual close-ups of the torso to full-body compositions that capitalize on facial expression and postural language, to double-exposed portraits whose layering creates deeper psychological dimensionality.  Using a hand-held camera and B&W film, Stark’s imagery is dynamic, texturally rich and emotionally powerful.

Alicia Savage is the only artist in the show who did not use body coverings symbolically, as well as being the sole female exhibitor.  Her athletic self-portraits exemplify the power of a soaring female spirit in her anti-gravitational series, “Grounded”.  An invigorating exploration of color, shape and composition, Savage’s photographs feature her diagonal figure caught touching down before a plain studio backdrop with minimal, dramatic lighting.  Emancipation fairly radiates from the frame as Savage’s gracefully outstretched body, flowing fabric swirling about her, resists the earth’s pull.  Her striking compositions are surreal and exhilarating.

Bear Kirkpatrick delves into a very different aspect of female spirituality in his elaborate series of life-sized “Wallportraits”.  Playing with the power of head and body coverings to evoke underlying character, Kirpatrick adorns, decorates, covers and coats his models.  After the portrait session, each one is electronically woven into an appropriated wall painting that suggests a history.  The direct, compelling expressions of his subjects are central to his composition and message.  With fantastical narrative overlays, Kirkpatrick attempts to layer the physical with the metaphysical, using his camera “to find the ghosts of presence and memory, the vestigial elements we carry about us as invisibly as spirits”.

In his colorful series, “Voile”, Jeffrey Heyne explores the ability of a woman’s veil to “conceal, reveal and deceive”.   He appropriates historic female figures from the postcards of famous paintings by Boticelli, Ingres and others, then “blends in a digitally created vertical veil, similar to a hanging shear curtain, with (super-saturated) colors derived from the painting palette itself.”  The conspicuous contrast between these classically painted women and their vivid pop-art “veils” serves to amplify the effect of a veil to impart the competing attributes of chaste virtue and eroticism.  I found Heyne’s approach to the female portrait unusual and fresh.

Leonard Nimoy uses veiling to explore eroticism in classical B&W nude studies.  In his collection “Eye Contact”, Nimoy strives to capture “the instant between the private and the seen, that brief affirmation of the self, which I find deeply affecting.”  Paradoxically, none of the models makes eye contact, their heads always averted, shadowed or veiled.  Nimoy explains this was done in an attempt to release the models from their inhibitions but, to me, it seems to impart a denial of self.  Despite some dramatic posing, Nimoy’s figures appear static and objectified in his small and beautifully printed high-contrast gelatin silver photographs.

 “Ravishing” is a purposely provocative show.  555 Gallery owner and curator, Susan Nalband, offers: “Photography of the female body often lingers between beauty and cruelty, between documentary and fictional repertoire, revealing what lies beneath. The works of the five photographers chosen for this show will excite, sadden, amuse and anger the viewers. The images are as unique as women themselves.”

“Ravishing” will be on exhibit at 555 Gallery in South Boston through May 3, 2014, with a gallery talk by photographer Jonathan Stark on April 19th.  For information and directions, go to: www.555Gallery.com

 

 What Will You Remember?- Elin Spring: “Who Said It”

March 27, 2014

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger."- Friedrich Nietzsche

In "Emergence", photographer Jonathan Stark uses mud and writing both metaphorically and literally to represent the changes occurring in women who have suffered physical or emotional traumas from which they have emerged stronger. Visually, the changes in the mud's texture as its first wet coats adhere to the body and then dry and crack are representative of the inner transitions that have occurred. 

Join photographers Jonathan Stark, Bear Kirkpatrick, Alicia Savage, Jeffrey Heyne and Leonard Nimoy (via Skype) at the opening reception for their group exhibit, "Ravishing", this Saturday, March 29, 2014 from 5 to 8PM at 555 Gallery in South Boston. For directions and more information, go to: www.555gallery.com 

 

The New Yorker- Elements Sections: “Slide Show Along the Barbarous Coasts”

February 24, 2014

"Barbarous Coasts," the inaugural exhibition of 555 Gallery, a new contemporary art gallery in Boston, depicts two disparate locations, Alaska's Upper Cook Inlet and the shores of Hofsos, Iceland. But David Mattox's photographs of salmon fishing and Neal Rantoul's images of basalt columns together form a cohesive view of the animated and craggy life at sea. The complementary nature of the photographers' subject matter is further highlighted, aesthetically, by the saturated colors palettes throughout. 

"Barbarous Coasts" is on view through March 22nd. 

 

What Will You Remember?- Elin Spring: “Barbarous Coasts”

February 19, 2014

What would you choose to exhibit, to set the tone for a brand new gallery?  In all its forms, art aspires to be transporting.  Sometimes, it opens new worlds to us.  And when it’s most effective, it touches us emotionally.  Susan Nalband, director and curator of the newly opened 555 Gallery in South Boston, found inspiration for her gallery’s inaugural exhibit from “Moby Dick” author, Herman Melville.

 “Barbarous Coasts” presents the work of two photographers David Mattox and Neal Rantoul, who have gone to the ends of the earth to create images that illustrate the rapturous beauty of the sea, its adjacent landscape and people.  Ms. Nalband recalls, “when I first saw these breathtaking photos I was reminded of Melville’s famed quote, ‘I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.’, which I feel best articulates the work of these two photographers, David Mattox is the captain of his own licensed salmon net fishing camp in Alaska. His collection, “Fish Camp,” is an ongoing series of photographs documenting his decade long work on the Upper Cook Inlet of Alaska.  Mattox explains, “In ten summers spent in Alaska, of all the things I have pointed my camera at, I have become most drawn to make pictures of the people that I work with because I find the allure of Alaska’s character more prominently displayed there than anywhere else.”

Indeed, in Mattox’s images, his subjects provide the literal and figurative color, framed against the rustic backdrop of the Alaskan coastline.  Their figures are set against the elements in dynamic compositions that combine with their bright clothing and direct expressions to reflect the hard work and hard play emblematic of their lives in the camp.  The theme of perseverance in a remote setting, often as tedious as it can be harsh, is evident in Mattox’s portraits of enduring human spirit.

Neal Rantoul, a prize-winning Boston landscape photographer, recently completed an artist-in-residency program in Hofsos, Iceland, resulting in his newest series, “Iceland Rock”.  Rantoul has a distinctive way of combining viewpoint, scale and geological terrain to present the Icelandic landscape in a way that is at once detailed and expansive, serene and powerful.

Rantoul routinely renders much more familiar landscapes, like wheat fields and mountainsides, with graceful magnificence.  What he is able to achieve with the far more unusual geologic structures in Iceland is quite astounding.  I’ve sometimes commented disparagingly on the “new normal” of outsized gallery prints, but Rantoul’s landscapes both demand and deserve this larger scale – they can take your breath away.

             “Barbarous Coasts” will be exhibited at 555 Gallery in South Boston through March 22nd, 2014.  A public reception and gallery talk with Neal Rantoul will be held on March 15th from 5-8PM.  For information and directions, go to: 

 

What Will You Remember?- Elin Spring: “Picture This!”

February 13, 2014

There is cause for jubilation during this dark month: a new photography gallery has come to Boston!  The 555 Gallery opens today in the ever-gentrifying warehouse district of South Boston, where it shares a building with the LaMontagne Gallery (upstairs), just one block from the artist studios building, The Distillery.  Owner Susan Nalband, an actively involved South Boston resident for the past five years, has innovative plans for extending Boston’s photography community into her neighborhood. And exhibits are just the beginning.  The 555 Gallery will host artist talks and workshops, acting as a resource for photographers, and will house a small boutique featuring items like local, artist-made jewelry, to extend its welcome to area locals. Recently, Susan shared some thoughts about her exciting new venture.

Elin: What made you decide to open a photography gallery in Boston in 2014?

Susan: Photography, because it is a lifetime love affair I’ve had. Boston, because it’s a city that can appreciate fine art photography and has limited venues for it, and 2014 because the right location came across my path.

Elin: What is your vision for 555 Gallery?

Susan: The program at 555 Gallery will evolve as we evolve, but the exhibits this inaugural year are influenced by a combination of what I’ve seen out there, what is fun and what represents my own experience with photography.  I was trained as a documentary photographer, and it is always where I go first. There’s a combination of emerging and seasoned photographers represented in 2014, and Elin: What kinds of exhibits do you plan to host?

Susan: We’ll usually have 2 or 3 person shows that will offer opportunities to see beautiful images that more or less may provoke conversation. There will be a portfolio of classic black and white nudes by Leonard Nimoy (yes, that Leonard Nimoy) and work by Garth Lenz, an award winning conservation photographer who is on a mission to tell the story of the tar sand mining in Canada. There will be work by young Brooklyn photographer Cassandra Giraldo, describing the lifestyle of  “gentle punks,” a group of young people in St. Petersburg, Russia who, just as you would expect, live on the fringes of society. Not to give all of the surprises away…but…we’re planning a dinner event in the gallery with photographs on exhibit of what you’re eating and where it came from.

Elin: Please tell us something about your inaugural exhibit.  How do these two artists set the tone for your new venture?

Susan: “Barbarous Coasts” presents the work of two photographers, David Mattox and Neal Rantoul, who have gone to the ends of the earth to create images that illustrate the rapturous beauty of the sea, its adjacent landscape and people.

David Mattox, whose work describes life in a unique wild salmon fishing camp in Alaska, is actually the captain of the boat and runs the fish camp. The photographs appealed to me because this is a reality that most of us are not familiar with – but it is reality. You’ll see, and I challenge you not to feel like you can smell the fish on the boats and the ocean in the air.

Neal Rantoul’s Iceland: Rock takes us to the other side of the world, again by the sea, to experience what appears to be an unreal landscape of huge walls of a rock cliff that are bizarre, beautiful and a little terrifying.

The combination of the work of seasoned photographer, Neal Rantoul, well known and beloved in Boston, and a first time exhibitor, David Mattox, speaks to the gallery’s goals of bringing work to the public in Boston that is beautiful and provocative, by both emerging and well established fine art photographers.

 

 

Lenscratch- Aline Smithson: “555 Gallery: Barbarous Coasts”

February 9, 2014

I am always happy to celebrate the opening of a new photography gallery, the 555 Gallery in Boston, which hopefully reflects a changing tide in photography sales and interest. Owner and director Susan Nalband opened in a 2,000 square foot space in a renovated 1950s manufacturing plan on the edge of South Boston’s old industrial and new residential neighborhoods and blocks away from the Seaport and Innovation Districts. 555 Gallery is dedicated to contemporary fine art photography and art with exhibitions showcasing the work of established and emerging artists.

The inaugural exhibition is Barbarous Coasts, a theme that Susan drew inspiration from “Moby Dick” author, Herman Melville. She states, “ When I first saw these breathtaking photos I was reminded of Melville’s famed quote, ‘I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.’, which I feel best articulates the work of these two photographers each from vastly different ranges of experience.” The exhibition opens February 13th and runs through March 22 with an opening reception on Saturday, February 15 from 5 to 8 PM.

Barbarous Coasts presents the work of two photographers Neal Rantoul and David Mattox, who have gone to the ends of the earth to create images that illustrate the rapturous beauty of the sea, its adjacent landscape and people.

Neal Rantoul

Neal Rantoul, a prize-winning Boston photographer, headed the photography program at Northeastern University for thirty years. Rantoul’s latest subject depicts the abstract rocky cliffs of Hofsos, Iceland, where he recently completed an artist in residency program resulting in his newest series, “Rock.”

Work of David Mattox, Fish Camp

David Mattox is the captain of his own licensed salmon net fishing camp in Alaska. His collection, “Fish Camp,” is an ongoing series of photographs documenting his decade long work on the Upper Cook Inlet of Alaska, where he found his best subjects in the faces of the people who work the sea.