Day Off 03

It was refreshing to encounter some wonderful black and white images at the galleries I visited last Friday. Before transitioning to color, I photographed exclusively in black and white for many years so I certainly have an affinity and fondness for the medium.

At Haines Gallery, Adou Samalada's Man & Sheep portrait was stunning. Deep blacks and the blotchy textures from the characteristics of expired film complemented his subject matter. The series depicts the disappearing Yi ethnic minority in his native Sichuan province in China. The silver gelatin print was enlarged to 50 inches high which I thought contributed to the image's arresting quality. Unfortunately, seeing in on screen does not give justice to the original piece.

Adou Samalada
Haines Gallery
September 10- October 17

Man and Sheep
Adou Samalada


At Fraenkel Gallery, Hiroshi Sugimoto continues to push the boundaries by using electricity as his subject matter and capturing it on film. One of the common threads to his work is his adherence to using only the traditional materials of the medium: time, light, film and camera and masterfully altering them to produce stunning images. I stood there in awe looking at the details: the hair-thin light streaks and the naked tree shaped patterns scattered arbitrarily against the largely dark, unexposed backdrop. Beautiful.

From the gallery's press release:

Sugimoto’s “Lightning Fields” depict electricity, an element that — especially for photographers working with large-format negatives — has historically been problematic and uncontrollable. Static electricity is well known to scar photographers’ negatives, and consequently to destroy their images. (This is one reason why carpets are not installed in darkrooms.) Viewing the challenge as an opportunity rather than a problem, Sugimoto has inverted the process and made nature’s static scars the focus of his attention.

To create each image, Hiroshi Sugimoto uses a Van De Graaff 400,000-volt generator to apply an electrical charge directly onto film. The result in each case is a unique, instantaneous image of an electrical current, sometimes resembling a meteor shower, or a “treeing effect” on the film. Sugimoto’s recent body of photographs continue to evidence the primordial and metaphysical qualities that define his oeuvre.

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Lightning Fields
Fraenkel Gallery
September 10- October 31

Lightning Fields, 119.
Hiroshi Sugimoto


Finally at Gallery 291, Mary Frey forms an analogy between photography and taxidermy. On her website, she writes:

Photography invites us to pay attention. It describes with economy, precision and detail. It enables us to stare, scrutinize, and become voyeurs. Taxidermy allows us to do the same. Its complete replication of an animal’s stance, gesture and look provides us a way to study and comprehend its existence. Yet I find that these animals, often portrayed in suspended animation, seem simultaneously strange, ghostly and beautiful. Their gaze is both familiar and unknown. I intend this work to move beyond what is merely seen to the territory of the imagination, where what is remembered and known is transformed into something new.

For this body of work, the original images are ambrotypes- a photographic image on blackened glass. It is created using the wet plate collodion process, which was popular in the mid nineteenth century. The use of archaic chemistry and materials usually depict a decayed, haunting and mysterious feel to the images which I am always drawn to. I viewed her work with much appreciation to the photographic process.

On the other side of the gallery were Michael Garlington's unconventional portraits. I read this review that described his work as "Joel Peter Witkin meets Diane Arbus." He uses the now extinct Type 55 Polaroid film creating a raw and unfinished quality to his final images. Clowns, animals, naked bodies. umbrellas and bowler hats-- nothing is too odd for Michael to tackle when it comes to his portraiture.

Mary Frey: Imagining Fauna
Michael Garlington: Garlington's Travels
Gallery 291
September 10- October 31

Varying Hare
Mary Frey

From the Album Series
Michael Garlington

Nymphoto: Conversations Volume 1

Cover Image: Natasha, Ukraine 2005
Courtesy of Michal Chelbin/Andrea Meislin Gallery

Nymphoto: Conversations Volume 1
Sasha Wolf Gallery
10 Leonard Street
New York, NY
May 6-20, 2009
Opening Reception: May 6, 6-8PM

Book launch and opening reception of Conversations Volume 1.

Work by Michele Abeles, Juliana Beasley, Rona Chang, Nina Büsing Corvallo, Candace Gottschalk, Jessica M. Kaufman, Klea McKenna, Michal Chelbin, Talia Greene, Maria Passarotti, Susana Raab, Emily Shur, Tema Stauffer, Jane Tam, Garie Waltzer & Jennifer Williams.

Books will be available for sale at the reception and are also available for order here from Blurb.

About Nymphoto

is a collective of women in photography that provides a supportive community for its artists and strives to send a positive message to the creative world. By providing online exhibitions, curating group shows, creating collective publications and offering an open forum for artistic discourse, Nymphoto remains a trusted and innovative resource for women photographers.

Nymphoto firmly believes in the power of community; and through this principle, we hope to equalize the gender imbalance that continues to exist in the art world today. In a society where the zeitgeist encourages ambivalence, Nymphoto hopes to mobilize the art world through good old-fashioned girl power, and aims to achieve goals as unbelievable as the stuff in Greek myths.

Nymphoto was founded by Nina Buesing, Candace Gottschalk and Melanie Oswald. With the addition of members Maria Passarotti, Rona Chang and Jane Tam.

Day off 02

A colleague from work switched schedules with me this week so my day off moved from Friday to Thursday. I coordinated with T so I could hitch a ride with her to the city to visit galleries while she met with her former co-workers for lunch. Unfortunately, some galleries were closed for installation but I was able to catch a few that were still running.

© Cathleen Naundorf
Robert Tat Gallery

Nostalgia greeted me when I entered Robert Tat Gallery and saw Cathleen Naundorf's photographs on the wall. It had been a decade or so that I had seen Polaroid work. It was a popular medium for experimentation while I was in school. It was quite refreshing to view them again especially knowing the company has ceased making instant film last year. Surprisingly, the image above entitled An Ordinary Day: Valentino haute couture was done in 2008. The rest were made from 2005-2009.

In 1994, Cathleen met Horst P. Horst and was inspired by his work. She lives and works in Paris photographing for several magazines and for specific projects with various fashion houses.

Polaroid's beauty stems from its imperfections, its unique color palette and the way it subdues light. Cathleen has masterfully incorporated these qualities to her images. I am curious to know how her images will evolve once the Polaroid film supply dries up. Nonetheless, her work is a reminder to me that classic elegance is timeless.

Edward Hopper, Robert Frank and William Eggleston
Curated by: Jeffrey Fraenkel

Photograph: Fraenkel Gallery

T saw the Edward Hopper retrospective two years ago in Washington DC and was taken by his work. I was curious to see what it was that intrigued her. When I heard that Fraenkel Gallery was putting up Edward Hopper and Company, I wanted to see the show especially because his paintings were juxtaposed with the work of contemporary photographers. The image above shows my favorite pairings. They hold equal strength even when they are executed in different mediums. I lingered at this corner for quite sometime studying the subjects' gestures, light and composition. I am probably drawn and inspired by them because of the mood. There is something intriguing when subjects are captured while they are enveloped in their own thoughts.

Umma, 2008; oil, encaustic, reclaimed objects, bones on panel; 14 x 36 inches (triptych)
Sono Osato
Photograph: Brian Gross Fine Arts

It was probably the striking red colored panels that made me stop and walk a few steps back to Brian Gross Fine Art. Somehow, I find an orderliness to the complexity and layering of reclaimed objects in Sono Osato's work. I love her play of positive and negative spaces and the graphic shapes she has chosen to incorporate in her paintings for this exhibition.

Here are excerpts from the press release:

Osato’s work embodies ideas connecting language, archaeology and geology. A combination of encaustic, oil painting, drawing and assemblage, the visual elements create rhythms of movement and texture.

Osato recontextualizes the metal hardware into compositions as though archaeological detritus. Merging and emerging from the real objects, silhouettes of drawn objects vie for space, perfectly integrating and creating a greater depth of surface. The painting has a powerful, physical presence with a vertical rhythm to the elements, revealing layers of the past marching to a hidden order. Osato recontextualizes the metal hardware into compositions as though archaeological detritus. Merging and emerging from the real objects, silhouettes of drawn objects vie for space, perfectly integrating and creating a greater depth of surface. The painting has a powerful, physical presence with a vertical rhythm to the elements, revealing layers of the past marching to a hidden order.

An afternoon off

Work ended at 1:00 this afternoon. A week or so ago, management made the decision to reduce office hours between now until the end of the year due to the unexpected loss of revenue from companies that decided to cancel their meetings for next year. Although the free time came at a cost, I decided to make the best of it. I thought to myself, what a perfect opportunity to visit galleries to get inspired!

I walked down Market street towards the Embarcadero and then made a left on the next block to Grant St. My first stop was Rena Bransten Gallery whose address is really 77 Geary but the building has a second entrance on Grant.

Brazilian born artist Vik Muniz's Pictures of Paper and Gordian Puzzles were on display.

©Vik Muniz

Dallas Mill, Hunstville: 1910 after Lewis Hine


This work is a collage made of several pieces of white, black and a variety of gray paper intricately assembled to reconstruct a photograph Lewis Hines made in 1910. I stared at this piece for quite sometime, mesmerized by Muniz' process. Even more impressive was this other piece called The School of Athens, by Raphael. This time, he uses hundreds of jigsaw puzzle pieces layered on top of each other to re-interpret the image. The work is then rephotographed and enlarged to almost fill an entire wall.

©Vik Muniz

The School of Athens, after Raphael


Next, I headed a few doors down to 49 Geary. I started on the 3rd floor at Stephen Wirtz Gallery where Todd Hido: A Road Divided was being shown. The exhibit showcases his new landscapes expanding from his previous body of work called Roaming.

©Todd Hido

7557, 2008

©Todd Hido

6426, 2007

At Fraenkel Gallery on the 4th floor, they had Richard Avedon: Performance on view. Vintage prints were shown together with some contact sheets and actual envelopes used to contain the negatives from his archive. Seeing these artifacts brought back memories of New York where I did an internship with Mr. Penn after graduating from school.

A book was published to accompany this exhibit.

©Richard Avedon

Elizabeth Taylor, 1958

Finally, Robert Koch gallery on the 5th floor held an exhibit by Michael Wolf: The Transparent City. This is in conjunction with his recent book released last month with the same title. The prints were gorgeous! The work reminds me of the classic Hitchcock movie, The Rear Window with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. The gallery uses an anti-reflective water-white glass for their framing that no glare is evident when viewing the photographs ( I only know this because it was typed on the price list).

©Michael Wolf

Transparent City, #39

©Michael Wolf

49 Geary

Robert Koch Gallery
5th Floor, 49 Geary
Photograph courtesy of KQED Spark

The building is a block away from where I work. I consider this my sanctuary from the daily grind. Not only does the place inspire me, it also serves as a constant reinforcement to continue pursuing personal work. I used to spend most of my lunch breaks here so that I could study the photographs by both emerging and established artists. I love viewing the large prints. I get to experience images I've only seen on a computer monitor in an entirely different way. When I moved jobs, I made sure I stayed in the same area. A bad day at work is forgotten once I enter the elevator that takes me to the galleries. It makes me smile as soon as I see those framed photographs lined up against the white walls. Sadly, my lunch break at my new job is not long enough to get me back in the office on time. Nonetheless, I try to get there after work and stay long enough before they close at 5:30pm.

Stephen Wirtz Gallery, 3rd Floor
Fraenkel Gallery, 4th Floor
Scott Nicholson Gallery, 4th Floor
Robert Koch Gallery, 5th Floor