An art exhibition featuring works by 10 local photographers
is now on view at Mia Weiner’s art gallery called Pinacoteca (which means “picture gallery” in Italian).
Pinacoteca gallerist Mia Weiner departs from her usual focus on European realist paintings and prints with Norfolk Through a Lens, an exhibition of photographs by ten artists from Norfolk. Inspired by a pending book about Norfolk photographers edited by Anita Holmes (whose work is included in the show), Weiner embraces contemporary photography as an extension of painterly qualities. Like representational painting, each landscape, still life, or figurative image selected relies on composition, subject, light and scale to convey a mood or memory.
The thirty-eight photographs that line the Pinacoteca walls share a sense of place. Views of local fields, grand vistas, flora, and people document the particulars of daily life. Peter Coffeen’s digital print, Still Life with Egg and Shell is a study of nine objects arranged on a tabletop. Greys and whites bathed in ambient light create the serene effect. This and four other pieces offered by Coffeen recall William Bailey’s exacting tableaux, or muted studies of mundane things in Giorgio Morandi’s studio. Coffeen seems to understand the Italian master’s fundamental message: sustained contemplation of the familiar has the power to reveal the universal.
James Jasper’s suite of three black and white Ceiling photographs show treetops seen from below. Jasper was probably lying on his back when took these pictures, holding the camera lens parallel to the lacy canopy. This artful perspective conveys the clusters of leaves as abstracted forms. The articulation of the various delicate leaf patterns derives from the half-tones that only gelatin silver prints can capture.
Rick Schatzberg’s Ausable Chasm is the most dramatic photograph of the show. The large-scale image of the famous sandstone gorge in the eastern Adirondacks places the viewer above an icy theater of once-raging falls surrounding a small power station. One glowing window suggests activity in this otherwise frozen terrain. Schatzberg ventures into the vernacular with Luckys, a quirky night scene of two middle-aged people considering a roadside stand that seems to be selling art. The artificial light that emanates from the trailer casts an eerie tone on this unlikely scenario.
Hay Bales and Zigzag Fence by Holmes effects the qualities of painting to which Weiner responds. Horizontal bands of color delineate the vivid foreground greens, the rust of the grasses in the mid-ground. Just beyond the orange hues is the pale green pasture punctuated by the brown bales and the distant hills, forest and sky are muted greys and greens in a hazy light. Holmes has transformed an otherwise ordinary scene into a modernist reduction of forms.
Other artists included in the show are Christopher Little, Bruce Frisch, Katherine Griswold, Mahlon Craft, and Babs Perkins. Together, the ten artists convey their keen observations and love of the natural world.
The exhibition will remain on view through May 8.
The book Norfolk Through a Lens: Visions of a Quintessential New England Town will be released in the fall of this year.
Guest art critic Daphne Anderson Deeds is a fine art and museum consultant in Litchfield County. A seasoned art museum curator and administrator who has held senior positions at university and civic museums throughout the U.S., including the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago, her eponymous consultancy serves private collectors, artist estates, museums and contemporary artists. Detailed information including testimonials, exhibitions curated, and publications is available at: daphneandersondeeds.com/