Figments of Reality – An Exhibition of Contemporary Landscape Images
Jennifer Schlesinger Hanson
Opening reception – Friday, November 7, 2014, 5–7 pm
The exhibition is on view through Saturday, January 10, 2015
Book Signing with Beth Moon – Saturday, November 8, 2014, 1pm
VERVE Gallery of Photography is pleased to present Figments of Reality: An Exhibition of Contemporary Landscape Images, work by six fine art photographers examining the many ways in which a landscape can be interpreted. The exhibition includes VERVE Gallery artists Duane Monczewski, Beth Moon, Jennifer Schlesinger Hanson, and Takeshi Shikama. The exhibition also features guest artists Blue Mitchell and Keith Taylor.
BETH MOON will have two new bodies of work in this exhibition, Odin’s Cove and Diamond Nights. In addition, Beth will be signing her new book; Ancient Trees: Portraits of Timereleased this September by Abbeville Press. Beth set out on a 14-year odyssey so as to capture the stoic beauty of some of the world’s most magnificent trees. Ancient Trees captures form and texture in these significant trees.
The Odin’s Cove study consists of intimate portraits of a family of ravens. This body of work was made along the foggy and overcast northern Californian coast. Moon named the location Odin’s Cove after the Norse god Odin. Odin was reported to have had two ravens that flew across the land so as to keep him in touch with events around the world. The Ancient Treesand Odin’s Cove are platinum palladium prints in small editions.
Beth Moon’s Diamond Nights has its inspiration from two scientific studies that connect tree growth with celestial movement and astral cycles. Most locations where these images were taken were wild and remote. She photographed far from civilization and light pollution. Her travels took her to the southern hemisphere, in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Baobabs and surreal quiver trees are featured in this work and titled after constellations named by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
San Francisco Bay Area artist, Beth Moon, has gained international recognition for her large-scale, richly toned platinum prints. Since 1999, Moon’s work has appeared in more than sixty solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Italy, England, France, Israel, Brazil, Dubai, Singapore, and Canada. Her work is held in numerous public and private collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, and the Fox Talbot Museum in Wiltshire, England. In 2013, Between Earth and Sky, the first monograph of her work, was published by Charta Art Books of Milan. In 2014, Abbeville Press published, Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time, with a third book to follow that same year from Galerie Vevais, La Lange Verte. Moon studied fine art at the University of Wisconsin before moving to England where she experimented with alternative photographic processes and learned to make platinum prints.
Santa Fean DUANE MONCZEWSKI has photographed in the desert Southwest for over 30 years. He uses a variety of films and he utilizes various surface treatments, such as selective bleaching and toning and including graphite, conte crayon and charcoal, in his print making. He strives to make images that transcend the literal translation of the landscape. He has worked extensively in photography labs and studios. He has also worked as a gallery preparator and has over 20 years experience teaching photography. His work has been exhibited at Harvard College and The Smithsonian Institute.
Duane speaks of his work:
“I don’t consider myself a traditional landscape photographer, I have always felt nature to be an integral part of the visual environment – our source material. My photographic interests – illusion, light, the evocative – are all available for exploration in the landscape. Man-made and altered environments are an important component of the landscape as well. The same impulses that draw us to nature – seeking out a place for refuge, a meditative space, an opportunity for renewal – I hope will draw people to my work.”
Santa Fean JENNIFER SCHLESINGER HANSON’s new Albumen series is titled, Utopia.Jennifer constructs imaginary landscapes with the intention to create a physical landscape that exists if only in the paper-imaged form. These images are a response to the philosophical question of whether perfection can exist in society, relationships, and natural environments. She brings together life’s dualities into a perfect union of beauty. Albumen, as a medium, convinces the viewer that these landscapes do exist just as 19th Century albumen prints were deemed true renditions of the time and place in which they were taken.
The artist says of the work:
“Utopia was first described in the Plato’s Socratic dialogue, The Republic, where Plato shared the idea that if citizens learned the wisdom to eliminate poverty, they could become rulers. In this society, there would be few laws and wars, ultimately leading to a peaceful society.
The notion of Utopia arose again in the 16th century, with Sir Thomas More’s bookUtopia which proposed an ideal society in the creation of the said name. The actual definition of Utopia has been confused over time between the Greek definition which means “no place” and the homophonic prefix meaning “good place.” The marriage of these two definitions assumes that the definition for Utopia is an idyllic place that does not exist.”
Jennifer Schlesinger Hanson was graduated from the College of Santa Fe in 1998 with a B.A. in Photography and Journalism. She has exhibited in Southwest regional institutions such as the Marion Center for Photographic Arts, New Mexico Museum of Art, and the Santa Fe Art Institute, as well as national institutions such as the Southeast Museum of Photography and the Chelsea Art Museum. Her work is in many public collections, including the Southeast Museum of Photography; The New Mexico Museum of Art, and the New Mexico History Museum / Palace of the Governors Photo Archives. She has received several honors in recognition of her work including a Golden Light Award in Landscape Photography from the Maine Photographic Workshops and the Center for Contemporary Arts Photography Award in Santa Fe, New Mexico, both in 2005.
TAKESHI SHIKAMA was born and raised in Japan. He turned to photography in 2002 after a career in the field of design. He was drawn to forests as the subject for his large format camera. It was the “invisible world” hidden behind the “visible” that he worked to capture. His first photo collection was published in 2007 as Mori no Hida (Silent Respiration of Forests).This project launched him into a lifelong endeavor.
In 2008, he created a new series, Utsuroi (Evanescence), consisting of four parts: Forest, Field, Lotus, and Garden. In 2009, he added the fifth part, Landscape. The following year, in 2010, while working on the Evanescenceseries, he started working with handmade Japanese Gampi paper for his platinum palladium printing. The detail involved to create these prints; each requiring hand-coating the emulsion on the paper and contact printing the negative; reflects the intimacy and interaction that he feels towards his subject-matter.
In 2013, Shikama received the first Jon Schueler Schlarship Award and was an Artist-in-Residence at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language, Culture and the Arts (Isle of Skye, Scotland). He has exhibited in various museum exhibitions including the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, USA; Johannes Larsen Museet (Kerteminde, Denmark); and at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo in A Coruna, Spain.
The artist says of his work:
“Seized by a strange sensation, I can sense the forest calling, almost beckoning me. I find myself responding to the telepathic power of the forest. This can probably be attributed to the fact that I am a Japanese national living in Japan where seventy percent of the land is made up of mountains and forests. In Japan we have a long history and tradition of doing our best to preserve and even worshipping nature. However, it cannot be denied that the thread of co-existence that intricately binds nature and humans has been broken in contemporary Japan. The rampant urbanization of Japan reflects the global changes that are now occurring.”
Shikama’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris); the Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego; Museet for Fotokunst Brandts (Odense, Denmark); The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Santa Barbara Museum of Fine Art; Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University; Portland Art Museum; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
BLUE MITCHELL’s series, Chasing the Afterglow, explores the moon, the setting sun, and the dreamy lore that plays out under their spiritual light. The use of silver leaf and mixed media alters the nature of the two-dimensional photograph and creates a more sculptural experience. This technique accentuates the luminescence of the subject and gives the work a tactile quality.
The artist writes of this work:
“This work aims to inspire the viewer to reconnect with the power of nature, with a pinch of the mystic. …The enchanted twilight hour, the magic under a blanket of stars, the visceral pull of the lunar phases – they ground us to nature but also allow us to transcend the everyday.“
Blue Mitchell is an independent publisher, curator, educator, and photographer. Based in Portland, Oregon, he has been involved with many facets of the photographic arts. Mitchell received his BFA from Oregon College of Art & Craft where he teaches studio school classes and workshops. Mitchell is the Founding Editor of Diffusion:Unconventional Photography, an independent, reader and contributor supported annual that highlights and celebrates unconventional photographic processes and photo related artwork. In addition to organizing and curating physical exhibitions around the country, Mitchell curates Plates to Pixels, an online photographic gallery that bridges the gap between antiquated photographic processes and new digital media. In his personal work he implements many photographic techniques including toy cameras, pinhole, alternative processes, mixed media, and hand drawing. Most recently Mitchell has been specializing in acrylic lifts – this process and some of his work was published in Photographic Possibilities, 3rd edition.
KEITH TAYLOR is presenting his platinum palladium series, The Badlands. These photographs were made over the course of several years in the Badlands of South Dakota and are part of an ongoing project.
Taylor writes of his work:
“Despite it being a seemingly inhospitable place, people have lived in the Badlands for thousands of years; the first humans arriving in the area around 11,000 years ago. As nomadic hunters and gatherers, they were probably among the early arrivals from Asia across the Bering land bridge.
In more recent times the Dakota Indians, the Sioux, ruled the area using the remote Badlands as their stronghold against the U.S. Army. The Lakota people refer to the harsh environment and rugged terrain as “mako sica” or “bad lands.”
British-born Keith Taylor is a photographer and printmaker now living in Minneapolis. His photographs have been exhibited across the US and the UK. Keith is a three-time recipient of Individual Artist Fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, and his photographs are held in many private and corporate collections. In 2011 he was awarded a Minnesota Center for Book Arts/Jerome Foundation mentorship. He writes for photographic publications, and also lectures and teaches on historical processes.
In London he became increasingly interested in historical, or alternative photographic processes and now specializes in platinum-palladium and polymer-photogravure, as well as gelatin silver prints for his personal work. Where possible he uses contemporary techniques to simplify these traditional processes; substituting safer, more environmentally friendly chemicals for the more toxic originals and using digital techniques to make the large negatives and positives these processes require.