Photography at Stonehenge

By on 20 June, 2019 in Art with 0 Comments

Stonehenge Gallery presents its 2019 Photography Competition Exhibit – A review by Susan Hood

What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time. — John Berger (1926-2017)

This exhibition runs July 8 through July 31. There is a reception on July 11, 5:30 p.m. until 8:00.

The 2019 Photo Competition Exhibit, a juried photography show featuring work from across the United States, opens Monday, July 8, at Stonehenge Gallery in Montgomery. The opening reception and awards ceremony will be held at the gallery Thursday, July 11, starting at 5:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Stonehenge Gallery is located at 401 Cloverdale Rd.

In November 2018, Stonehenge Gallery exhibited photographic work in a show called “Nine.” That exhibition grew out of casual chats about photography over coffee by a group of nine Montgomery photographers.

The success of that photo exhibit encouraged the group of Nine to collaborate with Stonehenge and organize the 2019 Photo Competition. Each of the original nine members of the Montgomery group will have one image included in this exhibit, though these are not eligible for an award.

This juried exhibit was open to all photographers (professional and amateur) working in all forms of photography. Submissions came from all over the United States: Washington, California, Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia and of course Alabama. A panel of four jurors reviewed 228 photo submissions, selecting 50 images for this exhibit. The photos chosen reflect a broad range of subject matter displayed in color, black-and-white, and digitally-altered images. There are three awards offered, one Best in Show and two Honorable Mentions.

Dave Campbell – Unloading Banana Boats in Belen

Masterful composition distinguishes Dave Campbell’s Unloading Banana Boats in Belén. The boats draw the viewer’s eye from right to left; then the two boards and the figure on the left pull the eye back to the central figure carrying what seems to be more than his weight in bananas. The texture in this photograph is marvelous, the proportions grant the viewer passage into this exotic and distant world.

Anne Berry – Donkey Parade

There was no requirement that images in this exhibit represent reality, but I hope that Anne Berry’s Donkey Parade is a photograph of a real place. There is something so innocent and graceful about these creatures in a tropical environment that it touches the heart.

Jelisa Peterson – Haunting

Jelisa Petersen’s Haunting is a powerful photograph. The figure of a child is positioned between a fence in the foreground and a landscape in the background; the child is in focus — the depth of field defines only the figure as she looks out with a sidelong glance. We want her to speak, as her image is defined between two spaces that are undefined.

David Green – Beside the Still Water

The serenity in David Green’s Beside the Still Water harks back to the Twenty-third Psalm. A dramatic sky is reflected in the water. The most important compositional element is the leaf in the foreground which links all of the remaining compositional elements together.

Ellen Mertins – Zinnias in Early Eastern Light

Repetition and variation, attention to negative space, and subtle color distinctions illuminate Ellen Mertins’ Zinnias in Early Eastern Light. Her placement of the elaborate vase at an angle makes the composition effective. Shadows on the curtain seem to dance along the central space — becoming a rhythmic illusion.

Ashleigh Coleman – Ice Cream Sandwich

Ashleigh Coleman’s Ice Cream Sandwich transports this viewer back to childhood. Although clearly a contemporary image it speaks to a more timeless nostalgia of summer in the deep South with all of its joys, heat and frustrations. The children represent, in turn, the pleasures of endless days on the lawn and its concomitant exasperation.

Mitford Fontaine – Bibb Graves Bridge

Mitford Fontaine’s Bibb Graves Bridge is placed at a slight diagonal across the horizon. The weight of the composition is on the left. As the eye moves to the right, the values and the colors become more distinct and complex. The photograph contrasts the natural and the man-made. We see the electric lights reflected in the water. The viewer is also encouraged to question the time of day- is it sunrise or sunset? My feeling is that it is early morning and the sun is coming up behind the viewers head. There is a kind of Impressionistic quality to the print making it more charming and evocative.

Brent Reaney – Muszka, Ruslan and Emirj

Brent Reaney’s studio portrait Muszka, Ruslan and Emirj is a study in ease and grace. These three are comfortable with themselves and each other. The image addresses the value of representation and offers a counterpoint to who is depicted and how they might be socially portrayed. “As time passes by and you look at portraits, the people come back to you like a silent echo. A photograph is a vestige of a face, a face in transit” says Henri Cartier-Bresson. We might expect a studio portrait to be posed, but there is no artifice here.

You don’t want to miss this exhibit. I think we take photography for granted because we snap so many images with our cell phones, but it’s a mistake to do so. Dorothea Lange reminds us, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Photography allows us to see the familiar in a new way; to appreciate small details that have contextual significance.

Susan B. Hood, Ph.D. is a retired associate professor in the fine arts department at Auburn University Montgomery.

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