19 October 2009

Gallery Night: Friday, October 16th.

I had the pleasure of visiting several openings during Gallery Night last Friday, October 16th in Milwaukee. Among the visited were Imagination Giants, RECONNECTION: An exhibition of Alumni work showing at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Francis Ford's The Life Boat, and Chris Miller's Out of Place presented by JW Lawson at the WAR ROOM.

By my side were my friend and fellow photography student Marta Shumylo, Chicago graffiti artist Jorge Avila, and Rockford ceramic artist Robbie Martin, who I recently met during my photography show [Chris French Presents: Annie Rudolph, Aryn Kresol, and Carrie Allen] at the beginning of October.

Imagination Giants
, showcasing the work of MIAD students created during a summer session in China - including notable works from fellow photography students Lara Ohland, Aimee Keil, and Wil Lewis - took place at the Pritzlaff building. You can read the collective statement for the show, written by Fred Dintenfass, HERE.

© Lara Ohland

© Aimee Keil

Lara and Aimee both wrote about their show in MIAD's Professional Practices class blog.

The night was a first time for me visiting a most of these locations, including the WAR ROOM, JW Lawson's studio. I had met JW in March of this year when he came to speak about some photographs he had up in the Perspectives Gallery at MIAD. It was a pleasure to finally get to visit the studio and I am looking forward to going back in the future.
Chris Miller's Out of Place runs until October 31st.

Francis Ford’s The Life Boat show took place at the Cedar Gallery on North Water Street. The exhibit includes large portraits (occupying two floors of the gallery) of some of Ford’s closest friends, people Ford stated that he would share a life boat with (I am assuming here that this would be if the world suddenly plunged under the sea).

Photographer Jim Brozek © Francis Ford

Soprano Victoria Benson © Francis Ford

Some of the images are witty or humorous, while others carry a more serious impression or air. The portraits truly have a life of their own. The man knows what he is doing. One of the few images – if not the only image, as I observed – that did not include the use of a backlight is particularly striking. The man in the photograph seems to be floating in space, although one can assume that he was seated like most of the other subjects of The Life Boat Show. His head jumps out of the print, seeming almost three dimensional. Each hair of his beard is alive, mostly white but sparked with black hairs. This portrait, as well as the others, pierces into the subject, and the subject pierces back. His eyes, eager and wide, penetrate into the viewer. One of my favorite portraits from the show – most likely for sentimental reasons, as it presents one of my MIAD instructors – is of photographer Robert Smith and his wife. Smith stares at the viewer with the same curious, wide-eyed gaze of a child. It is that engagement between the subject and the viewer that makes a successful portrait, and Francis Ford, in my opinion, is among the best of them.
The Life Boat show runs until December 5th at the Cedar Gallery (326 N Water Street) in Milwaukee.