Photographic postcards from Mary Lang

Mary Lang recently visited Oregon, and one of her destinations was the Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club in Portland, where she took a number of photos. This doesn’t mean that model trains are a full-blown obsession of hers…yet.

As she said to me, “I’m not sure I’m doing a project on model railroads necessarily, but I’m interested enough to follow this thread.” Lang had always heard about the Columbia Gorge club, and this visit provided her a great opportunity to play around, have some fun, and follow her intuition. It would not be the first time that one of Lang’s photographic series evolved from focusing on something that was interesting, without exactly knowing what would come of it.

As is evident from the images above, the models as Lang shot them involve her longtime focus on the landscape. As miniature built environments, they bring to mind the traces that people leave in sites familiar to them, such as the tiny trucks parked just so, and to alterations made to the land in order to sustain routine, such as bridges joining two facing embankments.

Photographers often become recognized for specific aspects of their craft: the cropping, the timing, the lighting. Lang’s photography embraces stillness. The stillness that she captures with her lens is a type of attention that magnifies what we see to the degree that it seems as though she invented the textures, colors, and contours that shape her subjects.

You can learn more about Mary Lang at her website, www.marylang.com, and find her on Instagram @marystuartlang.

Practice-Driven Innovation: Julie Graham & Joetta Maue

One of my favorite superpowers of visual art is how it can make sense of the confusing, annoying, frightening, or oddball things we all encounter in life. In my formativegraham-chevron years as a student, Jeff Koons’ ceramic sculptures of pigs, puppies, and pop icons made my grandmother’s living room a setting I could no longer discredit as simply old-fashioned. Robert Rauschenberg’s flattened cardboard boxes and socks stuck onto canvases made even alleyway rubbish seem to have the potential for a new, stylish life. Whether driven by social critique, theory, or design, visual art contains worlds where content and imagery can follow a higher logic than they seem to in real time.

This March at Kingston Gallery, solo exhibitions by Julie Graham and Joetta Maue integrate familiar material, including their own art work, to push their respective practices in new directions and transform their chosen media. Graham’s work is in the Main and Center Galleries, and Maue’s work is in the Member’s Gallery. Although the two artists’ exhibitions have different subject matter and influences, the similarities are worthy of noting.

Julie Graham‘s exhibition, If it’s not one thing… shows photographs with her paintings for the firstFullSizeRender time. As an artist, her driving impulse is to seek and resolve the unexpected. Graham often incorporates found objects and materials that are associated with architecture, including spackle and plaster. The resulting surfaces are complex and reminiscent of remote places, eras, and moods. Her painting Chevron is hung on an adjacent wall from a square-format photograph Chevron: Redux. The photograph captures a detail of the paintingThe filtered, cropped image, seen apart from the painting, could be part of a road sign; the dried paint texture could be years of wear from exposure to weather. The close proximity to the painting and resulting change in scale form a drama between the two works, but each piece also thrives independently. They do not need each other, but one riffs on the other. Graham’s process references our post-digital world, where we often see artwork first online or via Instagram feeds.

Joette Maue begins with familiar, personal aspects of her domestic life to inspire her new body of IMG_6599work. Her embroidery, photographs, and drawings take in the disarray of parenthood: toys left in a jumble, laundry that is always in process but never done, and houseplants that may or may not have been sufficiently watered. Primarily working in fibers, Maue’s exhibition in transition… incorporates other media, featuring three large drawings and a grid of eight photographs arranged as four diptychs. Maue drew her own IMG_6601_2crocheted fibers by projecting and enlarging her subject to make still-life details of the threads. She makes something new by examining something else she made, as Graham does with her photographs hanging on a nearby wall. The drawings enabled Maue to change up her studio time and pace of production at a time when her personal life was recalibrating. The photographs are grounding and meditative views of domestic spaces that provide a setting for her textile piece, wash dry fold repeat, which echoes the rhythms of care that accompany motherhood.

Slow Down

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Mary Lang’s recent photographs alert us to the world, or more precisely the world as perceived by the artist and mediated through the lens of her camera. She is bound to this world, these landscapes. We see as she does, places of great beauty, from a distance. They situate the viewer both in and out of the frame. They hold us and diminish us. That they are all digital prints (she notes her first such exhibition) is evident, but not essential to the way they are composed and presented. The images are idealized; a sense of yearning and a predominance of green are twinned throughout. In this moment in our culture of over-saturation of images, especially digital ones, Lang’s photographs invoke places out of time. The spaces are for the most part emptied out, even when there are figures or some evidence of a human presence. They alert us to stop and consider what we are seeing. They quietly say: Look. Look here. Look inward. See what’s there.

There will be a gallery talk on Saturday, November 29 at 4 pm. The exhibit runs through November 30. Don’t miss the show!

Image: Mary Lang, Clouds and mountains, Machu Picchu, Archival pigment print, 20×30 inches, 2013.

 

 

The Room is Breathing

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On a recent visit to the current group exhibit Free Association 2014 at Kingston Gallery, a question presented itself: what holds this exhibit together? In spite of the enormous variety of mediums, from tyvek, vintage books, photography, acrylic, encaustic, fabric, weaving, to graphite, there is a wonderful sense of rhythm and synergy exuding throughout the gallery and between the works as well.

There is also a great sense of space and air. The gallery is enlivened, it seems to be filled up with air. Although there was no curatorial overlay here, it is as if there was a plan and direction for the exhibition, creating this ineffable sense of lightness and breath.

What ties these artists together is simply that they are all Kingston Gallery Associates. But it is as if they colluded with each other in advance, so that the work would resonate in terms of color, form and shape, and so it does, so it does.

Don’t miss Kingston Associates’ Annual Exhibition: Free Association: 2014. It runs through August 29. There is an Artist Talk this Sunday, August 10, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Image: Shawn Salinger, Hang Around Sundown, Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 46 x 40 inches, 2013.

Congratulations to Mary Lang on the review in The Boston Globe by Mark Feeney!!

At Simmons, ‘Like Water’ for spirit

By Mark Feeney

Water dominates this planet. Light dominates photography. So what’s the relationship between water and light? Well, it’s ambiguous. Water can’t quite make up its mind about light. It reflects light. It also lets light in. It’s mirror and lens, and to at least some degree a distorting lens, to boot. Back and forth, up and down, in and out: From that duality, all sorts of arresting visual effects arise.

For a decade, Mary Lang has been photographing water: as river, ocean, puddle, cloud, droplet; between banks, along beaches, in parking lots, on windows; in Auburndale, on the Cape, by the Oregon coast, in the Andes. Variety of type and location is one of the attractions of water as camera subject. It’s not quite as ubiquitous as light, but it’s found in numerous forms all over the Earth even as it always remains the same: good old H2O.

In photographing water, Lang has said, she seeks “something intangible, impermanent, and luminous.” Those qualities are all evident in “Like Water.” These are quiet pictures. Lang’s waves don’t crash; they flow. One can more easily imagine her water evaporate than cascade or inundate. The power of water is there, but it has no need to call attention to itself.
It’s up to each viewer to decide whether those qualities Lang seeks take a form that’s more spiritual or strictly visual. Lang’s consistent ability to present color in a handsome, unemphatic way conduces to either interpretation. The images create their own sense of reality, not so much flirting with abstraction as inviting it in for a chat. Attractive as these photographs are, they are anything but pretty. Don’t expect to find them on a calendar or postcard. Not that there’s anything wrong with calendars or postcards. But staying up to date and tracking road trips are the furthest thing from Lang’s mind. That old putdown, “Hey, you’re all wet”? Lang shows that it might also be considered a compliment.
Image: Mary Lang’s “Near the Pump House, Auburndale, MA”
WATER: Photographs by Mary Lang

Trustman Gallery, Simmons College, 300 The Fenway, 617-521-2268. http://www.simmons.edu/trustman

Closing date: April 17

Mark Feeney can be reached at mfeeney@globe.com.

 

Barbara Moody’s Photographs at Albright Gallery

Barbara Moody — Roots 3

Barbara Moody — Roots 3

Barbara Moody is one of three artists exhibiting photographic work in Photographs: Chap-Malacara, Moody and Greenspun at the Albright Art Gallery in Concord, MA. Moody says about her work, “This photographic work connects my three obsessions: linear complexity, simultaneous representation and abstraction, and transforming the natural world.”

The exhibition runs from March 17 through May 3, with a reception on Saturday, March 29, 3–5 pm. For more information visit the gallery’s web site: www.albrightartgallery.com.

Mary Lang at the Trustman Gallery

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Don’t miss KIngston Gallery member Mary Lang’s exhibit “Like Water” at the Trustman Gallery.  http://www.simmons.edu/trustman/exhibits/index.php

Below is from the gallery website:

“Simmons College presents Like Water: Photographs by Mary Lang from March 17 – April 17 at the Trustman Art Gallery, located on the fourth floor, Main College Building, 300 The Fenway in Boston. A reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. will be held on Wednesday, March 19; Mary Lang will present an artist talk at 6:00 p.m. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public. For ten years, Mary Lang has used water as a vehicle for her exploration into the impermanent and intangible. Her meditative and chimerical works of uncertain scale and place allow one to pause and draw a long breath. The photographs, with views of reflections of clouds, detritus on water or the beading of water on a window screen, are disorienting in their ephemeral quality. They are composed with edges not defined – what is reflected or “real” becomes tricky. We just don’t know. Yet they draw us in with their calm beauty. Her C-prints abstractly mirror the world. These photographs are a bridge to the ineffable. They seem out of time and place. As a photographer Lang is rooted in the world – yet her subject matter seems not to be about physical description, but rather a sense of wonder and a release of the ego into a larger and more mysterious place. The Lunchtime Lecture Series will continue in the Gallery on April 1 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. with Assistant Professor Kristin Dukes of the Psychology Department. The subject of her talk is Discerning Eye: Social Psychology of Perception Trustman Gallery hours are 10 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Gallery is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible. For more information, contact Marcia Lomedico at 617-521-2268.”