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Safe Shots

Few risks were taken in Corporate and Museum Frame's seventh juried photo exhibit.


To fit them in its small gallery space, Corporate and Museum Frame stacked them three-high in places. In a show so large, one might expect to see the results of experimentation, but despite the number of artists represented, few risks were taken with method or content.

Straightforward developing processes such as silver gelatin and c-prints are the norm here, as are documentary-style images. There are notables in this group: Pete Mihelich's "Interior," in which a series of door openings reveal a succession of rooms painted in contrasting warm and cool colors, and Jake Lyell's black-and-white portrait of two young boys dwarfed by surrounding stalks in "Corn Harvest, Mt. Kilimanjaro." Simple and to the point, these photographers honor their subjects by means of a truthful yet critical perspective.

Not all manifestations of the medium could or necessarily should be represented here, but there is a surprising lack of digital images or hybrid photographic processes. However, Grantham awarded "Best in Show" to one of the few works executed in a nontraditional process — Melissa Z. Worthington's "Dualism," a provocative collage executed in giclee, acrylic and aluminum. The piece is a composite of images printed on layers of materials. Two nude figures are pictured side-by-side, one head up and one head down, each holding a handful of tulips, and printed in black on a metallic ground. Line diagrams printed in white, perhaps from biology or botany texts, float above the figures. The artist's quirky diagrams raise questions about relationships between the two figures and between the world of science and the world of art, but the real punch of this piece comes from the stark contrast between Worthington's cool metallic and acrylic surfaces and the living, breathing quality of the nude figures and the flowers they clutch.

Some of the most appealing photographs are by photographers whose tact is as painterly as photographic. Paula Dimino Demmert's "Naples Palm," a picturesque black-and-white image shot with infrared film, portrays a mature palm tree with the lush sensuousness of a baroque master. Two street scenes by Chia-chi Charlie Chang are composed as cool studies in texture and light while fixing sensory experiences of a busy sidewalk well into its language.

Grantham found common themes in the submissions such as nature, childhood, street scenes and architecture, and choreographed the exhibition to be installed accordingly. The viewer might be entertained by the variety of perspectives taken on the subjects, but will be disappointed by a general lack of original thought behind those viewpoints. That is why Sherry Griffin's playfully slick "You emerge victorious …" stands out for its wit. In this relatively large combination c-print and digital print, which at first glance simply appears as a graphic exercise, a flat field of turquoise is interrupted by small, perfect bubbles. A wisp of brilliant orange, which at second glance is discernable as the tail of a small aquarium fish, flashes across the top edge like a flag in high wind.

Perhaps borrowing her minimal, modern aesthetic from sources as unrelated as advertising and Tao, Griffin rakes her image with graceful patterns like a Zen garden. In compositional terms, bold complementary colors and delicate texture feed the eye, but by telling a story using minute detail, such a small piece of a whole cultivates something for the mind, too. S

The "Seventh Annual Juried Photography Exhibit" will be on display at Corporate and Museum Frame, 301 W. Broad St., through Feb. 5. Call 643-6858 for more info.

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