After Ansel Adams @ Museum of Photographic Arts

Rock formations on the road to Lee's Ferry, AZ, 2008 © Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe Digital inkjet print Courtesy of the artists

Rock formations on the road to Lee’s Ferry, AZ, 2008
© Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe
Digital inkjet print
Courtesy of the artists

After Ansel Adams
May 17 – September 28, 2014

The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) wants to show you our National Parks. Anchored by Ansel Adams, arguably the most recognizable name in landscape photography, their upcoming exhibition, After Ansel Adams, features a number of his images plus photographs from nine other contemporary artists.

All the images in this exhibition were photographed in National Parks of the American West and the photographers bring a variety of styles and practices to landscape photography.

“While some of these artists are directly influenced by Ansel Adams, all of them are working in the landscapes Adams connected with on a deep emotional level,” stated Chantel Paul, Assistant Curator at MOPA. “The photographs in this exhibition are diverse in their ability to capture the essence of the natural beauty available in these spaces as well as convey ideas of emotion beyond a documentation of place.”

While the selection of images is centered around the familiar terrain of US National Parks, the work itself demonstrates the ability of the artist to create an image all their own. The similarities and differences in the featured photographs demonstrate that at the core of any great artistic work is a unique idea and vision.

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.” – Ansel Adams

The featured photographers are:
Ansel Adams
Matthew Brandt
Bin Danh
Mark Klett & Byron Wolfe
Michael Lundgren
Chris McCaw
Takeshi Shikama
Millee Tibbs
Donna J. Wan

Museum of Photographic Arts

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Expressions: Contemporary Portraiture @The Kiernan Gallery


Expressions: Contemporary Portraiture
April 2 – 26

Opening reception from 5:00 – 7:00PM

A group exhibition of photographic portraiture. Juried by Robin Rice.

The Kiernan Gallery
23B West Washington St.
Lexington, VA 24450

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Sumner Wells Hatch -  Momento Mori Ojai California 2010

Sumner Wells Hatch – Memento Mori Ojai California 2010

Four photographers with very different voices have come together in a new exhibition in Queens, New York. “The Second Annual Group Show” opened on March 21, 2014 the B.S. Gallery features works by Sumner Wells Hatch, Martina von Rettig, Ed Cheng, and Ben Simon (who doubles as gallery owner). All of the artists are affiliated with the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York, although the show itself is not.

Sumner Wells Hatch - Momento Mori Ojai California 2010

Sumner Wells Hatch – Memento Mori Ojai California 2010

Sumner Wells Hatch is seldom seen with an instrument other than his 8×10 camera, which he uses to take contemplative large format photographs of his family home in New Hampshire as well as portraits in New York. But, the images in Memento Mori: Ojai, California 2010, which are featured in the exhibition, express a very different tone. Not only were they taken with a handheld 35mm camera, a process that could not be more different than that of the 8×10, but also according to Mr. Hatch, “These photographs were taken in a moment of insanity.”

The insanity to which he refers was prompted by his aunt’s funeral in Ojai, California. There he spent several hours wandering the premise during what he calls “the negative space of time.” That is, between the wake and the funeral and the family gatherings.

“I was blacked out,” he said. “All I could do was take pictures.”

Sumner Wells Hatch - Momento Mori Ojai, California 2010 (4)

Sumner Wells Hatch – Memento Mori Ojai, California 2010 (4)

But, ironically these photos are not insane at all, they are serene scenes, with a slight hint of movement: a hose pouring water into a pool, light poking through a road overhung with trees and moss, palm branches blackened partially by Hatch’s shadow. In one photograph, shadowed shrubbery forms a circle around a small white house poking out in the distance. The details in the shadows are so clear, that even if you blur your eyes, you might think you are looking at an etching.

That is no surprise, since all of Hatch’s photographs are printed masterfully, something that cannot be represented by the scan that accompanies this article. In that sense, it is worth the trip to Queens to see these prints in person.

Martina von Rettig - neon paint in ice

Martina von Rettig – neon paint in ice

Finish artist Martina von Rettig freezes objects into ice then photographs the results before they melt.

The process is scientific, but the results magical: each photograph shows a unique interaction of light, ice, and a random foreign object that von Rettig has created and pushed into abstraction. Some of the foreign objects she uses include, licorice, a metal ring, and splashes of neon paint.

Looking at any one of her images, it is not immediately clear what the object is before you. But, that lack of identity draws you in even closer because you will inevitably find yourself asking questions like, what is this? How did it get there? Is it man made? But, all of those questions will quickly fade because the beauty of the anonymous object in front of you is so pure, so dazzling, and the form so rare, that your gut will just take over. And you will find yourself standing there for a long time looking at this thing you know nothing about. All you know is that you want to keep looking because it is just so beautiful.

Martina von Rettig - metal rings in ice

Martina von Rettig – metal rings in ice

“Water, the symbol of knowledge, just like emotions, exists in a constant state of change,” said von Ritteg. “Even when seemingly still, water and all that it contains, evolves, evaporates, transforms, moves around and lives.”

One of her photographs looks like a Christmas ornament or a planet. It is a clear, whitish sphere divided by thin, horizontal rings. This piece of ice was made in layers, which each layer containing a metal ring.

When asked what led her to first make and photograph these structures, Ms. Von Rettig said, “I ask myself the same question.”

It started as an experiment in January of 2013.  Having just finished her first semester as a full-time student at the International Center of Photography, von Rettig flew home to Finland for a week to await her visa renewal. Because she could not predict how long she would have to stay in Finland (where it was even colder than 20 below zero degrees Celsius), she started playing around with light and ice, without any project in mind. She began by putting various substances in the middle of water, freezing those substances then photographing the process, watching it all melt away.  When she looked at the resulting images, the beauty astonished her.

Ms. Von Rettig has a degree in business administration, but 3 years ago turned to photography, painting and drawing. “I have always found it hard to express myself through words,” she said. “For me photography, drawing and painting feel more natural and comfortable.”

Ed Cheng - Las Fallas 2011

Ed Cheng – Las Fallas 2011

Documentary photographer Ed Cheng unveiled some images from his Las Fallas, 2011 series for the exhibition and at a timely moment, since the annual Velencia, Spain-based celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph just occurred this past week. Mr. Cheng’s images are handmade silver gelatin prints depicting scenes from this very dramatic ceremony where highly organized rituals include the costume wearing, the building and burning of Styrofoam statues and cartoon-like puppets, fireworks, and floral offerings for the Virgin Mary.

In one of Mr. Cheng’s photographs, a woman wears a long, pale, 19th-century traditional Spanish dress with a black veil. Adorned in a cross necklace and dangling earrings, she looks down as she offers her bouquet of flowers in front of her. She has no idea, it seems, that she is being photographed.

Ed Cheng - Las Fallas 2011

Ed Cheng – Las Fallas 2011

But, perhaps one of the most astounding and beautiful images is the one in which firemen appear to be extinguishing the flames of the aftermath. Silhouettes of half broken puppets and angel statues can be seen within the flames of a huge fire. A fragment of a man’s fabricated face sits at the front of the fire, looking almost like the Wizard of Oz. Meanwhile, straight lines of spouted water form a tilted cross behind the fireman’s silhouette.

“Tradition says [the Styrofoam creations] all should go at midnight. The reality is they go when the firemen get there,” said Mr. Cheng.

Ed Cheng - Las Fallas 2011

Ed Cheng – Las Fallas 2011

Mr. Cheng first heard about the festival in 2006, when he was living in Seville for 4 months. That same year, Easter fell late and he figured out a way to squeeze in a trip to the festival.

Mr. Cheng who also works as a freelance computer programmer, has been documenting events like this for long periods of time. He is also working on a series documenting Christian Holy Weeks and Easters around the world.

“The inspiration really is a reflection of people telling me their experiences of the event,” he said. “And I like things burning [photographically].”

Ben Simon - La Pieta

Ben Simon – La Pieta

Ben Simon, who put together the show, creates shadow boxes of collaged famous works of art, which he then photographs and leaves in the negative.

La Pietà, which is based on the 15th century Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti, shows Jesus dead in Mary’s laps while she grieves his sacrifice.

“This is a story many identify with,” he said. “It tells an ongoing story about power.”

When asked about this further, Simon cited the news.

“Increasingly, I have become aware that the story I see most is the battle between big and small,” he said, giving the example of how the value of money increases while that of individuals does not. “It has been an echo in our culture through out history. I believe the proportions of this fight and the cost of the outcome is greater now than it has ever been before.”

Ben Simon - Les Demoiselles d'Avignon‎

Ben Simon – Les Demoiselles d’Avignon‎

Through his work, Mr. Simon hopes to reference this battle from what he calls the “collective history.

Simon, who was born in New York City, but grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey before attending the Tyler School of Art where he majored in studio art, is also the owner of the Astoria-based gallery in which this exhibition is based. This is the second show he has organized at his gallery.

“I put it together because I believe that artists need to create their own opportunities to keep their networks active,” he said.

The show will be up for the next few weeks. Visitors are welcome to make an appointment by contacting Ben Simon:

Opening Reception. Photograph:  Michael Silverwise

Opening Reception. Photograph: Michael Silverwise


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Julija Svetlova @ Kaizo Salon

JUlijaSvetlova flyer

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JOHAN NIEUWENHUIZE @ Street Level Photoworks


4th April – 18th May 2014

Street Level Photoworks | Trongate 103 | Glasgow | G1 5HD | United Kingdom

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ARNIS BALCUS @ Street Level Photoworks


4th April – 18th May 2014


Street Level Photoworks
Trongate 103 : Glasgow G1 5HD

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28 APRIL – 10 MAY 2014

3-5 Swallow Street
London, W1B 4DE

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Elizabeth Ernst @ Catherine Edelman Gallery


Elizabeth Ernst MIRROR MIRROR
May 2 – July 3, 2014

Friday, May 2, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 3, at Noon

Elizabeth Ernst is fourteen months younger than her brother David, who was born in 1948 with cerebral palsy. As a way of protecting David, her parents did not let them play outside, confining their playground to the house. It was in her childhood home that Ernst first created her cast of imaginary friends who kept her company. Years later, she is still crafting a cast of characters based on people imagined and real. Mirror Mirror continues the artists’ deep commitment to storytelling, where animals talk, wood and paper mache come alive, and metal objects display a personality.

Catherine Edelman Gallery
300 W. Superior Street • Chicago IL 60654

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Book Review: Effortless Beauty Photography by Julie DuBose


This is a book I immediately decided to like and that’s to do with the quote by Leonard Cohen that introduces it: “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” This of course does not mean that I didn’t look at the photographs, or that I didn’t spend time with Julie DuBose’s ponderings and explanations, it means that Cohen’s quote made me approach this tome with a willingness to like it.

“Effortless Beauty” is about “direct living through direct seeing,“ I read. I’m not sure what that means (is there indirect seeing?) but it seems to start with, and requires, an attitude that is open and unconditional. “… the state of openness in our minds is like the blank sheet of paper. Blankness is vibrating with presence, with possibility, with the willingness to connect. It is the birthplace of direct perception, where all unconditional perception and expression occurs.”

In order to become visually conscious, argues Julie DuBose, one needn’t “add[] to our body of conceptual knowledge” but empty oneself of one’s old ways. “It involves letting go of our habitual patterns, our ways of labeling and sorting everything we experience, and in this case, everything we see.”

Quite a task, I’d say. And, as intrigued as I am by this approach, I also wonder why we are so often told that our ways of doing aren’t okay, that they should be different. I mean: What is wrong with habitual patterns when they make us feel comfortable? Isn’t labeling useful for it gives us a sense of orientation? Isn’t sorting everything we experience and see beneficial for it helps us to not feel totally lost?

Well, what Julie DuBose has in mind is something different: “Perception Beyond Thought” and that requires “Openness, Genuineness, and Confidence.”

While I have a lot of sympathy for an approach that aims at “Cultivating a Mind of Simplicity” (in order to really appreciate what that entails you are well advised to spend time with the photographs that illustrate this chapter), I also entertain quite some doubts in regards to the imperative “to be fully present in each moment” for I prefer to not be always in the present, and to not be always aware of, say, my tinnitus, or my toothache.

“Effortless Beauty” (I must admit that I’m at a complete loss as to what that might mean) is not a very apt title for this nicely done work that attempts to combine Buddhist meditation and photography. Does this combination work? Absolutely, as long as one believes that the photographer matters more than the camera. In my experience, the camera often comes up with images that surprise me. And, as Barry Lopez once phrased it in “About this Life” (1999): “I realized that just as the distance between what I saw and what I was able to record was huge, so was that between what I recorded and what people saw.”

Spending time with this book was an inspiring experience. Reading the texts put me into a quiet, simple, and at times empty, state of mind and thus let me see the photographs without a critical eye, without interfering thoughts, as inspiringly composed images.

“Effortless Beauty” is a book that calms my mind. And that makes me see.


Effortless Beauty: Photography as an Expression of Eye, Mind and Heart
by Julie DuBose
Miksang Publications, Boulder, Colorado 2013

To browse inside the book:


Hans Durrer is an author and addiction counsellor based in Switzerland: ;

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Jon Plasse @ Bosi Contemporary

Untitled, 2004, new PR image

Jon Plasse The Stadium
Exhibition on view: April 9–April 19, 2014

Opening reception with the artist: Wednesday, April 9, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Bosi Contemporary
48 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002

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