At the Griffin, selections and connections
WINCHESTER — Juried shows are about making selections, and juror Richard McCabe has chosen 60 photographers for the Griffin Museum of Photography’s “24th Annual Members’ Juried Show.” The exhibition runs through Sept. 2.
For a viewer, juried shows are about making connections. Each of those photographers has a single image in the exhibition. Very quickly, linkages emerge. Sometimes they’re intentional (the hanging is well done). Sometimes it’s a matter of content — or style — or affinity. Yes, yes, of course, appreciate each image on its merits. But the fun comes in making the show as a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
With Danielle Goldstein’s “Hell’s Kitchen” and Barbara Ford Doyle’s “Serenella,” the linkages are fourfold. They’re hung next to each other, as they should be, since both are black and white and feature mannequins. Don’t get too reductive, though; looked at more closely, Goldstein’s image is as much, or more, about the shadow on the sidewalk in front of the display window in front of the mannequins. Finally, there’s the allusion to Atget, who so memorably photographed some mannequins of his own.
Artistic linkages can be quite subtle. Stefanie Klaven’s “Wildley Theatre, Edwardsville, Illinois,” is from her highly cherishable ongoing series on old movie palaces. Ashley Gates’s “Jackson, Mississippi” shows an Oldsmobile Cutlass, c. 1975 (it’s purple, and, oh, those mag wheels), with portraits of great African-American entertainers displayed on a brick wall in the background. Ashleigh Coleman’s “Old Sardis, Toccopola, MS,” shows a small clapboard building — maybe a church — shot in black and white. The other photos are in color. What they have in common, beside being terrific pictures (and two of them being of Mississippi) is a chaste frontality that bows to Walker Evans.
Old-fashioned printing processes? Frank Hamrick’s “Gulf of Mexico” is a wet-plate collodion tintype, and Jeannie Hutchins’s “Diana 2, 2018, Blue Series” combines gum bichromate over cyanotype.
Speaking of blue, Terri Bright’s enticingly inscrutable “Untitled 2016” offers two shades. Or there’s Molly Block’s marvelously cropped “Diving Lady Motel.” Ostensibly about the funky neon sign for said hostelry, it’s really about kinds of blue: the sign’s background (navy), the diver’s bathing suit (almost turquoise), and the sky.
Wait, “kinds of blue” — music! The subject of Rebecca Moseman’s “Teenager at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair” has a pile of hair beyond the dreams of Amy Winehouse. The closeup view of the creature in James Collins’s “Praying Mantis” recalls the arthropod splendor of the cover of Steely Dan’s “Katy Lied.”
Speaking of choice ’70s rock (yes, there was such a thing), Ryan Steed’s “Alex, Andy, Chris, & Jody” shows a store name: Big Star. The title consists of the first names of the members of that much-lamented band. Speaking of cover art, Big Star’s second album, “Radio City,” featured William Eggleston’s famous “red ceiling” photograph. Everything connects? Yes, it does.
Not that those connections are always happy. McCabe chose for best in show an image from Nancy Newberry’s “Smoke Bombs and Border Crossings” series. Two men in sombreros and festive Mexican garb crouch before a wall. Supply your own meaning. Supply your own sense of shame.
Two smaller shows, also running through Sept. 2, are hanging at the Griffin.
For “Scratch,” Craig Becker takes a photographic portrait and does all sorts of layering — vintage photographs, what looks like paint, who knows what else — and photographs the final product. The images resemble paintings, though they’re not. The results look vaguely medieval. In the 14 photographs here, you can see bits of Francis Bacon, Hieronymous Bosch, maybe even “Monty Python”-era Terry Gilliam.
Russ Rowland’s “Force of Nature” consists of 11 color portraits. They’re not your garden-variety portrait — except that, in a sense, they are. Rowland takes a face, or even just bits of a face, and shoots them with lush vegetation — fronds, blossoms, leaves — sharing the space within the frame. The photographs are a bit like the work of the 16th-century artist Arcimboldo, who painted portraits made up of pieces of fruit, flowers, and other non-human elements. With Arcimboldo, it requires a second look to figure out what’s going on. With Rowland, it’s bang on the surface, Miracle-Gro for the eyes.
24th ANNUAL MEMBERS’ JURIED SHOW
CRAIG BECKER: Scratch
RUSS ROWLAND: Force of Nature
At Griffin Museum of Photography, 67 Shore Road, Winchester. 781-729-1158,