Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Refraction: Three Contemporary Photographers

by Tony Renner

"Refraction: Three Contemporary Photographers"
The Gallery at Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis, MO
October 24-December 21, 2008

"Refraction: Three Contemporary Photographers," curated by Amy Bautz, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Studio Art at Saint Louis University, presents the work of Mark Douglas, Bob Reuter, and Antje Umstaetter in The Gallery at Regional Arts Commission. The exhibit is currently on display through December 21, 2008.

Mark Douglas. Book #5.

Mark Douglas, who teaches photography and graphic design at Fontbonne University, weighs in with five large color photographs of close-ups of books. The photos, however, are not so close up that context is lost, that is, views can immediately recognize that they are looking at the top edge of an open book. The photos extenuate the arcs, curves and lines formed by opening the books, as well as the textures of the worn and frayed cloth covers.

Antje Umstaetter. Untitled.

German artist Antje Umstaetter, visiting professor in the department of fine arts at Saint Louis University, contributes a number of photographs, ranging from the very small to the very large, that the artist has placed in clear plastic bags splashed with white enamel paint or otherwise manipulated. The subjects of Umstaetter’s works are variously swimmers caught in the act of jumping or diving and close-ups of flowers. Through its sheer size the 13'x 11'. Winner, a cut-out photo of a rotund man captured mid-jump, dominates Umstaetter’s portion of the exhibition. Umstaetter’s most successful piece, though, is an untitled color photo of two skinny-dippers, backsides gleaming. Also notable are two un-credited–the wall cards were nowhere to be found, at any rate–close-up color photographs of berries covered in white paint. In these works, the paint has been added to the subject before the photo was taken rather than being added afterwards.

Bob Reuter. Exile on South Grand.

Bob Reuter fills one wall of the gallery with well over 150 black & white photographs ranging in size from 5"x7" to 11"x14". Entitled Exile on South Grand, these pieces document a nighttime world of musicians and artists. Reuter’s work is striking for not only the masterful use of light and dark but also the careful composition of each shot. Reuter’s photos have been mounted, neither framed nor matted, directly on the wall with a very carefully calculated casualness.

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The Gallery at Regional Arts Commission is located at 6128 Delmar Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63112. 314/863-5811. Gallery hours: Monday- Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday & Sunday 12 to 5 p.m.

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