Today Is History: Kate Breakey, Dan Estabrook & Jerry Spagnoli Opening Reception

We are excited to present three photographers in Today is History, which examines the use of early photographic techniques among today’s practitioners. Work by Kate Breakey, Dan Estabrook and Jerry Spagnoli will be featured. The show opens November 4 and runs through December 31, 2016.

Opening reception:
Friday, November 4, 2016
5:00 – 7:30pm

Gallery view - Today is History exhibition
Gallery view – Today is History exhibition

First it was questioned as art. Then painters used it as a tool. Decades later it was still defending itself as a viable art form. And now, more than 175 years after its inception, photography is an exalted medium, embraced by galleries, collectors and museums worldwide. While photographers engage with new technologies and new means of presentation, many artists working today still incorporate historical techniques in their work. Today is History brings together three artists who work with 19th / 20th c. processes to talk about present day concerns.

Kate Breakey (B. 1957 Adelaide, South Australia) is best known for her large-scale photographic work with birds and flowers that she painstakingly brings back to life with colored pencils. These pieces can be seen in two monographs, Small Deaths (2001) and Flowers/Birds (2003). In 2014, Breakey turned her focus to the land, and the small details of everyday life: a hummingbird resting on a tree limb, a wilting tulip, figs on a counter, the moon setting over the mountain, trees swaying in the evening dusk. Produced as Orotones (prints made on glass and backed with 23k gold leaf) Breakey creates small objects that command our attention, using an early technique to comment on the beauty, fragility and simplicity of her daily surroundings.

Kate Breakey's salon style installation
Kate Breakey’s salon style installation

For more than 30 years, Dan Estabrook’s (b. 1969 Boston, MA) work has been at the intersection of yesterday and today. Working with salt prints, calotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes, Estabrook creates art that echoes his life, loves, desires and fears. Like many practitioners before him, he turns the camera on himself to make contemporary works inspired by the gap between today’s photographic perfection and the past’s technical limitations. As he states: “Using 19th-century techniques and celebrating their flaws and failures, I make seemingly anonymous photographs in order to re-imagine a more personal and dream-like history of photography, seen from a 21st-century perspective. With these processes, I can create my own ‘found photos’ – highly personal objects in which to hide my own secrets and stories.”

Jerry Spagnoli (b. 1956 New York City, NY) is credited as today’s preeminent photographer working with the daguerreotype, a polished copper plate treated with mercury vapor. Using this material, Spagnoli has photographed significant historical events, including the horrors of the World Trade Center and the beauty of Times Square on the eve of the Millennium. In his 2012 series, Glasses, Spagnoli tackles the reflective quality of everyday water glasses. As he states, “Ultimately my use of various materials and methods is centered in my desire to make complicated stories out of the everyday world, which is my apparent subject matter. Photography allows me to engage viewers with images and ideas which are filtered through the abstracting apparatus of the camera and woven into the matrix of its rich history.”

Today is History: Kate Breakey, Dan Estabrook & Jerry Spagnoli
November 4 – December 31, 2016
Please visit our website to view all images in this exhibition.

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