TRADITIONAL APPEAL

The Buffalo News

TRADITIONAL APPEAL

Date: Friday, July 27, 2001
Section: GUSTO
Edition: FINAL
Page: G15

By: By BRUCE ADAMS – News Contributing Reviewer

Illustration: “Shelter” by Erica A. Scherer, from her “Urban Necessities Series.”
Detail from “Cable Car Station” by Donna Jordan Dusel.

PHOTOGRAPHY IN WESTERN NEW YORK

WHEN: Through Aug. 10

WHERE: Art Dialogue Gallery, Western New York Artists Group, One Linwood Avenue

ADMISSION: Free

INFO: 885-2251
“Photography in Western New York,” the definitive-sounding title of Art Dialogue Gallery’s current exhibition, may prompt expectations of a show of far-flung works reflecting our region’s well-deserved reputation for photographic innovation.

The expectations continue to rise with the name of the juror of the exhibition. Anthony Bannon is director of the George Eastman House in Rochester and the former head of the Burchfield-Penney Art Center. His stature in photographic circles should have attracted artists working in digitally manipulated images, large-format photographs and other advanced photographic approaches. With Bannon selecting the work, one might reasonably anticipate examples of fabricated photography or conceptualism, works that reflect gender politics, or pieces that use any of the many postmodern strategies that have emerged in the last 30 years or so.

Instead, with a few exceptions, the exhibition delivers a largely traditional display consisting of 25 works by 20 area artists. Occupying just half of the gallery’s available space, there is nothing daring or outrageous here, nothing that could be called edgy.

That’s not to say this show is without appeal. Once expectations have been suitably adjusted, viewers will find strong, individual works – even a few witty takes on established styles – nestled among the many merely pleasant landscapes and competent formalist compositions.

For example, Erica A. Scherer’s trio of prints from “Urban Necessities Series” ironically documents the requisites of inner-city existence as defined by “the canon” of African-American youth culture. To make her point, Scherer employs tightly cropped compositions with shallow depth of field in meticulously crafted studio photos that focus attention on accessories worn by anonymous male subjects.

One, simply called “Clothing,” rudely displays a tongue ring in a dual act of pride and defiance. In “Shelter,” Scherer zeros in on one side of a stereo headphone held close by the listener’s hand, as though this act provides protection from the outside world. Also intriguing is Linda Gale Click Gellman’s enigmatically titled “Dyslexia Doesn’t Matter IV,” two apparently impromptu photos of a clown and his tractor-like vehicle. The clown seems caught off guard and his bemused expression seems to make him more “the fool” than he intends. The second shot shows the inside of the vehicle in which juggling pins and toilet plungers – tools of the trade – nestle against a warning label reading “Danger.” Gellman’s odd angles complete this mildly disconcerting vision of clown subculture.

Richard H. Stamps’ archly amusing “Nose Candy” is of a garishly colored nighttime Las Vegas-style display of a huge plastic sun positioned behind two equally plastic showgirls. Shot from a low perspective, the sun’s projecting nose appears to nearly poke the women’s bikini-clad backsides. The work straddles a line between low comedy and social commentary.

More subdued is “Anemus” by Irene Haupt, a hauntingly esoteric depiction of a ship at sea. Its monochromatic murkiness and dark boarders create an ephemeral quality reminiscent of pinhole camera pictures.

Among other worthy efforts are Donna Jordan Dusel’s “Cable Car Station,” which adopts a snapshot aesthetic in portraying a smiling woman alone on a bench, her crossed legs radiant in the dark setting. . Alison E. Kurek’s “Lucky Day #1 (Fortune Cookie Series)” lampoons confectionary kismet with a sparse composition and droll wit.

Sometimes in a mixed show like this, it is difficult to tell where intention ends and technical problems begin. Joyce Cromwell’s panoramic view of Delaware Park’s “Japanese Gardens” is pleasing in a vaguely impressionistic way. But it’s unclear whether the effect is intentional or the product of her camera’s limited resolution.