The inaugural photography exhibit at the recently renamed Victoria Boyce Galleries brings together the work of four artists with as wide range of backgrounds, subjects and approaches as possible, pushing the show to the edge of cohesiveness though three of them employ nature in their work.
Seven Ilfochromes by Christopher Brown, a veteran Colorado River guide, represents some of the most immediately accessible images in the show. With Aspen and Fir Slope, Elk Mountains, Colorado, he nearly produces a sense of vertigo, coupled with a true yet subtle sense of scale between nature and man by depicting a vertical mass of trees that dwarfs a barn.
Meanwhile, Scott Simpson pushes the natural world into the background with his playful, nostalgic images. In The Slow Lane, he takes an old Chevrolet in a darkened field and paints it with light resembling the hues sported by drive-in diners of the 1950s. B to the B-End features a simple, roofless and decaying adobe structure bathed in a blue-green glow, while the taillights of passing cars in the distance serve up an allegory of the moments and places we tend to forget in a society never satisfied with the speed at which we move. Several of Simpson’s images cast the moon looming placidly while the stars streak across the sky in a time exposure.
Portraits of whirling Dervishes by Jeff Gatesman are quiet and sensitive, capturing some of the Sufi Muslim mysticism that goes into the physical act of spinning. Turning III, a tightly cropped portrait of practitioner in mid-spin, seems to burst through the frame’s boundaries with level of emotion and sweetness that conveys a reverence for the subjects. But Gatesman, a lighting technician by trade, falls short of the same standard in his other work, which includes black-and-white images of blues musicians that don’t quite transcend that “fourth wall.”
Finally, Israeli-born New Yorker Talli Rosner-Kozuch rounds out the show with four large platinum paladium prints of flowers in editions of 100. Daisy depicts dew forming on bright petals, as the plant’s stem recedes into the darkness, in a classical composition that pleases more than it challenges. (Surprisingly, for prints priced at $1,500 apiece, the images appeared to be marred by stray specks on the contact plate.) Dahilia and Sunflower are straightforward, and show their subjects’ geometric — and mathematical — beauty. But although Rosner-Kozuch has the most extensive résumé and her work has been included in such notable collections as the Polaroid Collection, the four pieces here leave the viewer wanting more impact, more intensity.
Exhibit: “Picture This,” Christopher Brown, Scott Simpson, Talli Rosner-Kozuch and Jeff Gatesman at Victoria Boyce Galleries, Scottsdale, Ariz. — July 6 through Aug. 9, 2000.