Archives for category: Fine Art
web-Freefall

Freefall, c. 2017

In the spring of 2016 I was invited along on a civic business trip to Washington D.C. Finding myself deeply dismayed by the profoundly unsettling dialogue engulfing the presidential election, I decided to make the trip with the intention of beginning artwork for a possible book project.

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Out of Balance, The Rayburn House Office Building, Washington D.C., c.2016

My curiosity as an American was coupled with a growing unease as a country built in the most beautiful language and lofty visions was immersed in denigrating the best president of my lifetime. While President Obama led the country out of seemingly insurmountable calamities with a dignity, intellectual vigor, commitment to diplomacy and respect for all the country’s people, the extremists raged. Leading a swath of America backward onto itself to wallow in its lowest traditions of prejudice, ignorance and obstruction, the Republican leadership barely masked a glaring desire for self-enrichment.

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The President’s House, The White House China, c. 2016

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Reflections with Washington, The White House, Washington D.C., c.2016

I had never been to Washington and given the effort the Obamas invested into increasing access to the government by its people, I couldn’t imagine a better time to visit. Through my invitation I had additional invaluable access: conferences and receptions at the House of Representatives and Senate office buildings; a private Congressional tour led by my Congressman’s staff; a tour of the White House as well as dinners in storied old buildings with people who hold high sway, elected and not, in my city. It was a privilege and I was hooked.

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The Contradictions of Jefferson, The White House China, c. 2016

Revolutionary Wall Paper, c. 2016

My interest was to explore the vision, architecture, language and idolatry of significant American figures in our early years – the lofty goals of our founders versus the harsh contradictions of slavery, slaughter of indigenous people and profiteering land grabs. I thought a lot about the elegance of thought and language and debate, which furthered the country’s laws and protections for lands and citizenry. I thought a lot about the caustic knee-jerk, childish rhetoric and gang-bang mentality sweeping through contemporary America. I did not expect by year’s end to be dealing with fascism and a thuggish plutocracy, aided and abetted by foreign intervention and a complicit, regressive government.  What has ensued in this new regime is a disgrace on all counts.

What’s Become of the Grand Old Party, The White House China, President Wilson Dinner Plate, c. 2016

Bracing Ulysses, United States Capitol Rotunda, Washington, D.C., c.2016

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The Kompromat, c. 2016

Concurrent with exploring and making images for The Republic, my family began to delve more deeply into our own history, uncovering a lineage going back to the Mayflower, Jamestown and beyond. It looks as though I may descend from John Rolfe, who set sail in 1609 for America on the Sea Venture, a ship and it’s wreckage near Bermuda that informed Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Having located desirable strains of tobacco while rebuilding a sailable ship, Rolfe is credited with bringing the first commercial tobacco cultivation to Virginia. He is also known primarily for marrying the daughter of the Chief of the Powhatan Indians. Her name was Matoaka, but we know her as Pocahontas.

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The Sea Venture, c. 2017

Searching for Pocahontas, c.2016

As intriguing as all that is, it came with the whiplash realization that my forefathers were directly complicit in the birth of the plantation culture in the South.  I shouldn’t have been surprised, but when research led to several of my direct ancestors who owned slaves, I felt a shudder of responsibility I’d hoped to never feel. A lifetime of liberal politics and egalitarian beliefs did not prepare me to hit that wall.

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A Revolt Suppressed, George Washington Dinner Plate, The White House China, c.2016

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Federal Self Reflection, c. 2016

In exploring my full ancestral lineage, the trail has led not just to the aforementioned historical figures but also to officers in the Revolutionary War, to soldiers in both the Union Army and the Confederacy, to the struggling and the well-heeled, pioneers, farmers, and women who died of influenza and in child-birth. My family’s evolving story coupled with a fascination kindled from the trip to Washington quickly developed into an obsession with image making, learning and thinking about The Republic.

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Abundance and Sacrifice, Number 2, c. 2016

Hallowed Ground: The Lincoln Memorial, c.2016

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Jim Crow Segregation, Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, California, c. 2016

How does one reconcile a heritage built both by Native Americans and the Colonists? Does one feel pride in the immense struggle it took to create such a complex and elegant governmental system while being mortified at the methodology employed for its success. Patriotism is a complex thing.

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Sacrilege: Bill Cody’s Jacket, c. 2017

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The Supreme Court, Washington, D.C. c.2016

Before the election of 2016, I thought I might be at this project for years given the abundance of information I struggled to digest. At the time, I thought the election would go differently and I could focus my work on the founding first few hundred years.  I thought I’d be able to stop short of the now, as a full United States history would be an unrealistic undertaking.  But ignoring the now and all that went before it would be to turn a blind eye on all the good we’ve done and just as significantly, all the bad.

from the series The Republic

Liberty, c. 2017

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The Greatest Generation: Franklin D. Roosevelt, c. 2017

I realized early on that I needed to employ a variety of working methods to better serve the vast array of subject matter, even if those methods might typically be at odds with one another. Unlike a more common single narrative, The Republic is a massive story requiring a broad range of interpretations.  Some work is environmental, some simple landscapes, environments and still life photographs.  Other images are conceptual constructions.  I began to make props so that I could photograph the objects and ideas that I wanted to see and convey. Those ideas punctuate a timeline threaded by more typical images that serve at least partly as establishing shots.

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Nixon’s War, c. 2017

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Impasse at the House, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C., c. 2016

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Abu Graib, President G.W. Bush Dinner Plate, The White House China, c.2016

The Republic is an ongoing project, as much activism and self-education as art and personal historical exploration.  As such, some images stand alone more profoundly than others and there are many gaps that I intend to fill over time.  As an editor, the content is overwhelming. As a maker, I find the discovery of both information and ways of translating that information creatively, to be immensely challenging and ever intriguing.

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The White House Portico, c.2016

My country straddles a morality stuck between what many of us thought was a progressive future and the strong and persistent gravitational pull of an extremist past, intent on continuing to rear its ugly head. In creating works for The Republic I wrestle with all of it – a baptism by fire. We can’t get over it. We must go through it.

 

 

All rights reserved, c. Kathleen Clark, 2016-2017

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Spot Photo Works, the new Los Angeles based, contemporary photography gallery started by myself and Russell Adams, will be occupying most of the corners and curves of my mind in its first year. I’ll still be doing some freelance editing and mentoring, but for the most part my writing is going the way of the gallery and you can find me holding forth to that end on the Spot Photo Works Facebook page and on Spot’s blog.

Chris Anthony's series "Seas Without A Shore" opens November 15th.  Pictured:  Ladybird No. 2 ©2012 Chris Anthony

Ladybird No. 2 ©2012 Chris Anthony from his upcoming exhibition, “Seas Without A Shore.”

 

Spot’s first year of artists include: Dennis DeHart, Victory Tischler-Blue, Chris Anthony, Gregg Segal, H. Lee, Robert Harding Pittman, J.K. Lavin and Todd Weaver. We’re excited and we hope you visit.

I’m wrapping up jurying for Critical Mass and I’ll be reviewing portfolios at Photo Lucida in Portland in the Spring. Perhaps I’ll see some of you there. I’m also judging a yet to be announced competition for the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado. I may also get inspired to write here on occasion and if time allows perhaps I’ll be able to pull on the threads of my own art making as well.  If so, I’ll keep you posted if anything juicy comes of it.

In the meantime find me at Spotphotoworks.com or at Spot’s Facebook page. Be well. Be in touch. Be inspired.

Spot will be located at 6679 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles at Crossroads of the World.

Spot will be located at 6679 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

 

Friends,

You have been kind enough to read and look at images here over the last few years and I appreciate it. I just wanted to post a quick update to shine some light on my silence over the last months.  I’m embarking upon a new gallery project – a collaboration with my friend, master printer Russell Adams of Schulman Photo Lab in Los Angeles (Hollywood). Together we are opening a contemporary photography gallery called SPOT Photo Works, located right next door to Russell’s lab in the wonderfully vintage Crossroads of the World complex. News will come soon of our inaugural exhibition but in the meantime please feel free to “like” our page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/spotphotogallery and I’ll make sure you hear of upcoming programming. We’ll also have a blog page for more in depth information, so join us if you like:  http://spotphotoworkslosangeles.wordpress.com. I haven’t posted much there yet as it’s a bit early, but it won’t be long.

I hope to see you in August.

Warm regards,

Kathleen Clark

Kathleen Clark ©2013

From “Lost Language” by Kathleen Clark ©2013

It’s the end of another year.  Out with the old, in with the new, etcetera, etcetera. I haven’t written here in a while. I’m not completely sure why but life gets busy. Even so, I kick myself for not adding my two cents to the cacophony of voices. Still, one must have something to say.

Occasionally I wake up in the middle of the night with fully formed sentences in mind that seem terribly profound. Just before hosting a Christmas dinner for twelve, I woke up with the language of an entire toast that I was able to deliver somewhat coherently. It went over well enough with good champagne as lubricant and an attentive audience.  On the other hand I have not found myself immersed in ideas, photographs or artwork lately that compelled me enough to write about it for public consumption.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t seen anything I liked, it just means I didn’t really feel it necessary to comment.

From "Lost Language" by Kathleen Clark ©2013

From “Lost Language” by Kathleen Clark ©2013

I have made a fair amount of work on behalf of others this year – designing and promoting exhibitions and bringing in a couple of new photographers to show in the near future for Leica Gallery LA. I’ve re-shaped portfolios, and re-built a career or two for private clients. I had a photo portfolio of my own environmental portraiture and documentary work on musicians picked up by a magazine. I had the distinct pleasure of sitting for a few hours in a kitchen booth with basketball great Phil Jackson to pour over photographs with him and get clues as to how I should edit the photographic story of his life. He laughed at my jokes. I pet his dog. What more can one ask?

All this brings me to the subject of my personal body of artwork. It too, has kept me lying awake at night, wrestling with ways to manifest an idea. During a shoot last month, photographer Dan Winters asked me what I was up to with my photographs. He’s the exceptional artist that I last wrote about here and the one that always makes me feel like I’ve found my feet after we have a conversation.  There’s something about a talk with Dan that just sets me right. He’d seen most of an ongoing series I’ve been working on the last couple years, but I have a new body of work that I’d shown to no one outside the family.

From "Lost Language" by Kathleen Clark ©2013

From “Lost Language” by Kathleen Clark ©2013

A few days after parting ways I worked up my nerve and sent Dan a link to the work. The fact that he wrote back quickly to say that the new images really affected him both conceptually and technically and he thought it a beautiful series, should have caused me to run a flag up a pole. After all, that kind of meaningful, trusted compliment is so rare. Instead, I just felt encouraged enough to keep working on the series. At times I suffer from my own humble nature. On the other hand I wanted it to be strong enough before I threw it to the wind.

From "Lost Language" by Kathleen Clark ©2013

From “Lost Language” by Kathleen Clark ©2013

Last night I dreamt some scraps of a phrase Dan said about sharing artwork as being one of his great pleasures. It reminded me of how freely I once engaged as a young artist in the discussion of ideas, of making and sharing imagery and collaboration apart from the obsession with self-promotion that so encompasses contemporary photography. In the spirit of sharing, I’m posting a few of my new series called “Lost Language.” There’s a proper statement about the work at the end of this column, but try to find room for your own interpretations. I know what fuels this for me, but it’s spacious and abstract work and there’s room for whatever it makes you feel. When I made the first image in this column just two days ago, I found myself grinning. So bring to it what you will and have a happy new year.

From "Lost Language" by Kathleen Clark ©2013

From “Lost Language” by Kathleen Clark ©2013

From "Lost Language" by Kathleen Clark ©2013

From “Lost Language” by Kathleen Clark ©2013

From "Lost Language" by Kathleen Clark ©2013

From “Lost Language” by Kathleen Clark ©2013

From "Lost Language" by Kathleen Clark ©2013

From “Lost Language” by Kathleen Clark ©2013

 Lost Language:  “Words fail me.”  “I’m speechless.” “She’s at a loss for words.”  Such expressions are considered a normal gap in one’s abilities to find suitable language in certain stressful or overwhelmingly emotional times. At the beginning of life, there is a rapid gathering of verbal elements – a snowball gaining speed and building to a phenomenally grand toolbox of linguistic pieces. Letters and punctuation accumulate and our verbal thoughts and words are like a tide constantly ebbing and flowing.  With loss of memory, a gradual disintegration of language happens. Words stick together, but are isolated from others. Some words are lost altogether creating a language that makes accommodations for the parts that are missing. As witnesses to memory loss, we make excuses and sense of what’s left. “He had a beautiful woolen jacket” becomes “he had one.” We struggle to piece together the intended meaning and make do with what’s left until words become fragments and fragments turn to silence.

From "Lost Language" by Kathleen Clark ©2013

From “Lost Language” by Kathleen Clark ©2013

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Armstrong’s Lunar Glove, July, 2012 (c) Dan Winters Photography

As a photography editor, I’ve met many photographers I enjoyed or learned from and many who are still my friends today. In the evolution of my working relationship with Dan Winters, the underlying quality was a sense of old connection, like we’d known each other forever. With each project we worked on together, there was a deepening awareness of substance, humanity and mutual trust.

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Rubber Stamps, 2012 (c) Dan Winters Photography

A lot of people love working with Dan Winters, so in that I’m not unique. He is one of the foremost editorial photographers of our time for good reason. For me, there was always something about him that made me feel at home, a shared origin rooted in art, orchards, the West and the understated.  It had nothing to do with magazines or the politics of publication so I often felt that we “got away with” making art in a context that’s not always accepting of art. When an artful being raises from the drought that publishing plus commerce creates, it’s a thrill. It is especially so when that artist has the tools, aesthetic, and craftsmanship to convince editors of their gifts, allowing art to thrive and excel even when sandwiched between the aspirational ads for jewelry and furnishings.

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Apollo Mission Control Console, Houston, 2012 (c) Dan Winters Photography

When I call Dan Winters a friend, I should explain that I never shared dinner with him or his wife and manager Catherine, though with both we shared enough thoughtful conversations to place them in a respected place in my world. We spent time together as he photographed beloved vintage robots and science fiction movie props at a collectors cluttered house in North Hollywood and I watched in admiration at the comfortable way he photographed Anthony Hopkins in a hotel room turned studio in Santa Monica. He skillfully executed my concept of still life top hat and cane for a classic Hollywood feature in a way that was fascinating to observe and stunningly beautiful.

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Endeavour on her pad, May 15, 2011 (c) Dan Winters Photography

A few years ago when I was in Austin, Texas for SXSW, I had plans to visit Dan and Catherine at the studio where he made so many of the still life photographs that we spent our phone conversations working through. I wanted to see for myself the studio where I’d shipped him orange trees and crates of a range of citrus fruit for the California Citrus series that now sits on my mantle – the studio he said smelled absolutely amazing. Ultimately my schedule didn’t end up allowing the visit so when I found Dan by chance sitting across from me in the airport as we both were leaving town, it felt like kismet.

Endeavour Passes Through the Clouds, May 16, 2011

Endeavour Passes Through the Clouds, May 16, 2011                              (c) Dan Winters Photography

All this is to say that it’s probably impossible for me to critique Dan Winter’s work objectively, so I won’t even try. I will urge you to go see his exhibition Last Launch at Fahey Klein Gallery in Los Angeles through August 31. Winters received close-range access from NASA to photograph the last launches of the space shuttles Discovery (February 24, 2011), Atlantis (May 17, 2011), and Endeavour (May 11, 2011). With multiple automatically controlled cameras, bolted into place for stability, Dan Winters records the dramatic launches of the last flight of these shuttles as they were sent hurtling into space. The resulting launch photographs are breathtaking, whether one has an interest in space travel or not.

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Discovery Flight Deck (aft view with robotic arm controls), Cape Canaveral, 2011              (c) Dan Winters Photography

The exhibition depicts far more than the launches alone however, and large-scale “portraits’ of the shuttles, lunar rovers and elite fighter planes, cockpits and mission control panels remind those familiar with Dan Winters’ work just how good he is at photographing gadgets, machines and all things science. My personal favorites were the detail shots of the astronaut’s gloves, as well as the full-length flight suits. Neil Armstrong’s Lunar Glove is much more than just a discarded piece of a uniform. In Winters’ hands, the glove appears to be fully inhabited. In my mind it is filled with all the dreams of everyone who once huddled around a television set to see Armstrong’s fuzzy apparition, as he was the first to put a boot down on the surface of the moon. Last Launch is as close as many of us will get to experiencing the historical space program and a rare opportunity to see work by the gifted Dan Winters.

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Neil Armstrong’s Lunar Suit, Smithsonian Institute, July, 2012              (c) Dan Winters Photography

Last Launch: Discovery, Endeavour, Atlantis is also a book published by the University of Texas Press.  His other books include Dan Winters’ America: Icons and Ingenuity (2012), and Dan Winters: Periodical Photographs (2009). Dan Winters is a regular contributor for Vanity Fair, New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Texas Monthly.

Self Portrait (c)Dan Winters Photography

Self Portrait (c) Dan Winters Photography

Fahey/Klein Gallery is located at 148 North La Brea Avenue, between First Street and Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. The gallery is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, Tuesday through Saturday, 323 934 2250.

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Hippocampus #5 (c) Chris Anthony

Bottomless vales and boundless floods,

And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,

With forms that no man can discover

For the dews that drip all over;

Mountains toppling evermore

Into seas without a shore

– Edgar Allan Poe

The large set of leather-bound books seems deeply significant in the recesses of my childhood mind.  The five members of our family were readers, and we collectively made evening outings every three weeks to the public library in our suburban neighborhood to bring home arm loads of modern writers like Harper Lee, J.D. Salinger, and Truman Capote.

The novels on the living room shelf, however, were classics:  Twain, Dickens, Flaubert, Dumas, Hawthorne and such.  They carried the weight of middle-class aspiration to finer living – to a life less drab. There may have been reproduction Americana folk prints on the walls, but Oscar Wilde’s sophisticated and humorous musings on the shelf. Aside from their literary value they delivered a physical quality of richness as they sat amid the regular bound books in a ranch house filled with faux-colonial maple furniture.

There was also an untouchable quality, due either to our mother not wanting us to gum up the pages with sticky fingers, or just due to the fact that the books themselves had a certain nobility.  Regardless, there were two strong qualities I recall, one of which was just how good they felt in my hands: supple leather and shiny smooth gold gilded pages.  There was also a spooky quality amid certain books: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and all the works of Edgar Allen Poe.  The darkness of these stories may pale with the horrific and violent imagery in contemporary culture, but their power in story-telling set an atmosphere of apprehension that seemed to emanate from the bindings themselves.  That’s the power of imagination in a child’s mind.

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Self #2 (c) Chris Anthony

Expiscorari (c) Chris Anthony

Expiscorari (c) Chris Anthony

All this brings me to a beautiful and mysterious new book by photographer Chris Anthony. Informed by the prose and imagery of Edgar Allen Poe, “Seas Without A Shore” is rooted in historical image making without being stuck there. Anthony implements the wet plate collodion process beautifully along with using 150 year old lenses, but those are just a few of the tools in his bag of tricks. Anthony has one of the finest visual “voices” I’ve known in recent years. Part mystic, part conjurer, vaudeville ringmaster and antique portraitist, Anthony is a rare animal.  His ability to set both simple and elaborate stages creates elegant enigmas throughout all of his bodies of work that allow the viewer to witness something of a different reality while exploring themes of solitude, hope and survival.

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Melanie #1 (c) Chris Anthony

When I once worked with him on a series of editorial portraits at Hollywood’s Magic Castle, I was actually surprised that he didn’t arrive in a Victorian morning jacket or step out of a coach rather than a car.  He so thoroughly created his own landscape that I came to expect him to inhabit it as well.

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Ladybird (c) Chris Anthony

In “Seas Without A Shore,” Chris Anthony writes: “An image that I go back with since I’m perhaps three or four years old is a vintage movie poster for the 1934 film, The Black Cat, hanging on my Aunt Maggie’s living room wall in Stockholm. The disembodied heads of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi zooming across the blackened vortex of the cat’s silhouette made a huge impact on me. Their facial expressions were terrifying. Like a stick in the wet cement of a young brain, it wires you for good, and save for perhaps an Arthurian therapist attempting to pry it loose from your noodle, one is rather stuck with it for life.  But even at that age, the poster didn’t scare me. It thrilled me. It’s also the first time I ever saw the words: Edgar Allan Poe.”

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October Rust (c) Chris Anthony

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Skid Row (c) Chris Anthony

In an era of rampant shutter releases, Chris Anthony’s vision takes us to a selective and sophisticated level of image making with fictional narratives from the bizarre to the banal.  “Making the masks, and many of the props and costumes is a big part of the process and it helps me define this unique and demented little world I live and shoot in. There are many still-lifes (or portraits rather) of Seahorses, which I find to be one of the most beautiful and fascinating creatures in existence. The mysteries of the sea is certainly a big part of the subject matter in these pictures and I like to think that the book ends with a sort of crescendo of color images of survivors braving waves and currents, perhaps the result of a future world where ocean tides will wash away the planet’s coastlines.”

Hippocampi #1 (c) Chris Anthony

Hippocampi #1 (c) Chris Anthony

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Rex Pelagus (c) Chris Anthony

Chris Anthony was born in Sweden and lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited in Los Angeles, Stockholm, Brooklyn, Hong Kong, Washington D.C., London, Bath and San Francisco and published in the Los Angeles Times, Eyemazing, Art News, American Photo, Blink, Paper, Photo+, Nylon, Black Book, Juxtapoz, Zoom, Corrierre della Serra.Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 2.52.38 PM

“Seas Without A Shore,” is a self-published book, available through its author, offered in a variety of versions including a signed edition limited to 200 copies with cloth bound cover and options of slip cases, clamshell boxes and original prints. Unlike the fearsome books of my youth, the gorgeous “Seas Without A Shore” begs to be opened, pored over, considered and reconsidered. Contact chris@chris-anthony.com  http://chrisanthony.viewbook.com

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Wings #1 (c) Chris Anthony

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Sun/Moon (Trying to See through a Telescope), 2010
2010 Sep 25 7:02:27 AM – 2010 Sep 25 7:02:38 AM
2010 Sep 25 7:08:01 AM – 2010 Sep 25 7:01:21 AM
Ultrachrome print on Canson Rag Photograpique paper
17 x 69 3/8 inches each

Following my winter hiatus spent working on a variety of projects including a book photo editing project, I attended an exhibition by artist Sharon Harper and was captivated by her work. Harper happened to be among a group of photographers with which I shared a brief, but lively conversation last spring at Fotofest.  I had the most minimal look at her photographs at the open portfolio night, before some distraction pulled me away from her table. I was pleased then, to have the opportunity to see her work at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.

Selections from Sharon Harper’s series “From Above and Below” elevate the small interior gallery space with a handsome series of large-scale images of the sky, taken primarily through a telescope. More specifically, they were taken with a camera attached to a telescope.

Harper has served on the photography faculty at Harvard for the last eight years and has work included in such prominent collections as MOMA and the Whitney in New York, Portland Art Museum and the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. She also has a striking new book of her work “From Above and Below,” published by Radius Books in 2012.

Sun/Moon (Trying to See through a Telescope), 2010
2010 Jun 2 3:31:35 AM – 2010 Jun 2 3:32:38 AM
Ultrachrome print on Canson Rag Photograpique paper
17 x 69 3/8 inches

Sharon Harper’s photographs feature an ethereal, minimalist esthetic. They are at once graphically beautiful, clean and spacious and also provoking of curiosity. The sequences of the moon as it rises and falls through the night sky in one image and into the morning in another, feel scientific but also somehow comfortingly familiar. They are the stuff that we spent our childhoods day-dreaming about. Her telescope is clearly more powerful than the one my grandfather put on the porch above the Columbia River as we squinted to try to find the craters, cheese and the man on the moon, yet her sense of discovery is full of the same wonderment.

One Month, Weather Permitting, 2009
Night Sky over Banff, Alberta
September 12 – October 10, 2007
25 September

In “One Month Weather Permitting,” Harper charts the night sky over Banff, Canada.  She writes that the photographs are “capturing long-exposure star trails for two or three consecutive nights on a single sheet of film throughout the period of a month.  Environmental interruptions, such as passing clouds, light pollution, and light leaks, are all recorded in process.”  The resulting images appear at first like drawings by the most delicate of hands.  Exquisite fine lines and scratches fill the frame, reflecting the movement of both the camera and stars alike.

In a sense, Sharon Harper is a classic documentarian.  Her detailed notes of photographic times of shutter release mark many of the frames and her photographs not of the sky, but of the location where the sky photos were taken, give a sense of place and orient the viewer in the way a more typical documentarian might lay out their story.

Sun/Moon (Trying to See Through a Telescope), 2010                                       2010 May 27 10:48:35 AM - 2010 May 27 11:08:34 AM                                   Ultrachrome Print on Canson Rag Photographique paper                                17x58 1/8 inches

Sun/Moon (Trying to See Through a Telescope), 2010 2010 May 27 10:48:35 AM – 2010 May 27 11:08:34 AM

In the most compelling art, the longer one looks, the more one sees. Sharon Harper’s photographs allow us to escape the confines of our terrestrial visual rootedness for glimpses of something beyond our world and yet so much a part of it.

The biggest disappointment about the exhibition was that Harper’s work was not featured in the larger dominant space at Bergamot Station’s DNJ Gallery.  It’s not the first time a gallery has shown its strongest work in the lesser exhibition space, and to my dismay, I’ve noticed it several times at DNJ.  Harper’s photographs are so esthetically strong and so conceptually interesting that it’s truly a shame that they aren’t the first thing one sees upon entering.  It was well worth my time to enter, but I would have enjoyed a larger sampling.

Sharon Harper with her photographs.

Sharon Harper with her photographs.

Sharon Harper’s “From Above and Below” can be seen through April 13, 2013 at DNJ Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Avenue, Suite J1, Santa Monica, California.  Her work is also represented by Galerie Stefan Ropke, in Cologne, Germany and by Rick Wester Fine Art, New York.

“Departure,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

My mother died a few days before Christmas last year.  She had a long period of the kind of limbo dementia causes and in the last couple of years dialogue wasn’t really possible except between my brothers and I as we recalled every bit of family nostalgia.  Since our father had passed away in 1996, thoughts of them both along with other relatives, living and dead, began to swirl around in my head. My youngest brother had dreams filled with dead relatives.  We’re not religious people so we processed the partings with reminiscence and appreciation and wine.

I began the series, “The Living,” as something of a tribute or reliquary to essential things learned from my parents and family.  In searching for family icons, I quickly realized much of what was most meaningful was botanical.   Both sides of our family evolved from farmers. Our grandparents grew huge gardens with strawberries, raspberries, and cherries, and my Father followed suit with impressive gardens of his own, even though he wore a suit and tie to his job every day.   Mom channeled her considerable creative energy into an ever evolving array of complex craft projects and wonderful cooking and I spent much of my childhood staring at the sky, mowing the lawn, listening to the leaves rustle and pruning lemon trees.

Constructing sets or tableaux of some type has long been a part of my art practice and I chose to both construct as well as alter environments. The sets were then combined with found and organic elements, which I then photographed.  The concept evolved from what I considered to be a very personal insular project to one that embraced larger, more universal gifts of living.  In visually exploring my simple surroundings and playing with gravity and stillness and shadow and light, I experienced a profound appreciation of the esthetic magic of nature and its immediate ties to home and memory.  I expect I’ll continue working on this series at least through the end of this year.

“Inheritance,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Guardian” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Aloft,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“The Cream,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“February,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Seascape,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Sweet on You,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Lemon Blossom,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Easy Going,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Sun Dress,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Sweet Thing,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“The Right Tool,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“The Importance of Pie,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Cherries,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Rolling Pin,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Straight Off The Vine,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Flight Lesson,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“A Perfect Peach,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“The Dandy,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Satin Doll,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Thanksgiving,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Denouemont,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Three,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Persimmon Leaf,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Lifespan of Citrus,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Lit from Within,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark

“Natural Magic,” from “The Living” (c)2012, Kathleen Clark