New work from Jack Spencer

Somewhere along the back roads of small towns dotting the American landscape is Jack Spencer, a self-taught photographer, capturing the country and those he finds within it. Throughout his travels, Spencer looks for the unexpected, waiting patiently for images to emerge.

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Two Wild Horses, Cumberland Island, 2007 © Jack Spencer

Driving through forgotten towns, lush bayous, overgrown cotton fields and visiting weathered porches filled with the sound of authentic country blues, Spencer watches and listens, always looking for that one moment, interaction or ray of light that inspires him to take a picture. His photographs illuminate a singular mood, person or place, exposing us to the raw beauty etched into the faces and landscapes in the South, as he returns time and again to his subjects, peeling away layers, offering us a glimpse at another facet of their character.

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Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 2016 © Jack Spencer

From the moss hanging on Cypress trees in Tomotley, South Carolina, to the crumbling ruins of an old church, or an abandoned tire swing swaying in a humid breeze, Spencer’s work emanates with the heat of a southern summer where everything grows like wildfire and the air feels like an extension of your skin.

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Miscanthus, Iowa, 2008 © Jack Spencer

These are but a few of Spencer’s most notable images from Native Soil, his first monograph, which solidified his place as one of the most gifted photographers working today. Whether photographing people or the landscape, Spencer manages to draw us in, searching for stories in the silhouettes of children on a beach or the haunting eyes of an older man staring directly into the camera. In his latest book This Land; An American Portrait, similar stories are being told. The photographer broadens his scope, invoking imagery from New England cityscapes to coastal towns in California, and most everywhere in between.

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The River Rouge, Dearborn, Michigan, 2016 © Jack Spencer

Whether traveling the roads of Louisiana, New Mexico, or Montana, Jack Spencer is on an endless quest for beauty — to capture small moments and freeze them for all to wander into. It is here, within his images, that we grasp his magic, as each image reveals its own meaning. Spencer is an artist whose vision is unquestionable, as is his commitment.

New work by Julie Blackmon

 Julie Blackmon shared with us her two newest images: Fake Weather and Trapped.

Fake Weather, 2017

Fake Weather, 2017 © Julie Blackmon

Fake Weather is the more comical of the two, the kids’ faces flaunting Julie’s skill of direction. It’s Christmas in July, or an unseasonably warm winter (not unlike what we experienced in Chicago this year).

Trapped, 2017

Trapped, 2017 © Julie Blackmon

As evidenced by the signs in this garage, Trapped hearkens to the distress felt by much of the country during and after the U.S. 2016 presidential election. Multiple skateboards, an energy drink, and the lone hand etching a lewd word across the door’s four windows hint at the extent to which the current political climate affects even young members of her community.

Those familiar with Julie’s work will recognize the Midwest domesticity as well as her children, siblings’ children, and the children of friends and neighbors. Blackmon, herself the oldest of nine children, balances her role as a mother of three and an artist, referencing family life and the circumstances it creates. Chaos, disorder, fantasies, social gatherings, game playing, all of these scenarios continue to dominate Blackmon’s work, which we first witnessed in her series, Domestic Vacations (Radius Books, 2009). Elegance, triumphs, dangers and solace mix with fantasy, where nothing is quite as it seems. Like Alice in her wonderland, Blackmon’s children appear in reality and fantasy, engrossed in their fictitious worlds.

Influenced by Jan Steen and 17th c. Dutch paintings, Blackmon also credits Edward Gorey, Tim Burton and Federico Fellini, who stated, “the things that are most real to me are the ones that I invented… even lies are interesting, eloquent and revealing, just as much as what is considered the truth.” By looking at her family through the lens of fiction, Blackmon reveals her own truth and one that seems to resonate with audiences’ worldwide.

Since 2005, Julie Blackmon has received overwhelming critical acclaim. Her works are part of numerous collections, including The Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX), George Eastman House International Museum of Photography (Rochester, NY), Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO), Columbus Museum of Art (Columbus, OH), Cleveland Museum of Art and The Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, IL). Her newest book Homegrown is available from Radius Books.

New “People of the 21st Century” by Jan Kaesbach

Jan Kaesbach consistently surprises people who visit the gallery. His portraits contain over 3,000 still shots that, shown in succession, create a 3 to 4 minute video loop of his subjects. Showing the videos on a monitor is really the only clue to the viewer that these pictures are in fact, moving, not just illuminated.

This ongoing series is called People of the 21st Century, in homage to August Sander, who was known for his portraits typifying everyday tradespeople at the turn of the 20th century.

Jan’s newest portraits are of painters; you can see a few of them below. Visit us at AIPAD, March 29 – April 1 to see People of the 21st Century in person!

“Building a Universe” by Jacob Watts

Chicago Project artist Jacob Watts shared with us a new body of work entitled Building a Universe. Jacob’s curiosity in the Pleiades star cluster led him to research ancient mythology, and apply it to a modern re-telling of the tale:

“I remember being very young when I first saw the Pleiades star cluster. Peering into the summer night sky, watching the faint lights twinkle, I wondered why no one else around me seemed fascinated with it. That night burned into my memory and my interest in the cluster emerged again as an adult. Research revealed to me that many other people were fascinated with it: almost every other civilization for thousands of years had their own mythology about the Pleiades. The story was told in many different ways, but a common thread involving the Seven Sisters was ubiquitous. Believing that this ancient story should be given new life, I wanted to create my own version to pass on its tradition of storytelling. Building A Universe is a modern retelling of the mythology of the Pleiades and the Seven Sisters in the realm of science fiction.

“Using a process of photography rich with photo-manipulation, the images follow a story of the Seven Sisters on their journey to help a dying Earth from the destruction of nature. Hailed to the last civilization, Aymatoposem, the Sisters discover the planet’s nature is being consumed by large cube structures. Having been hailed by a man named ‘The Inventor,’ they travel to his laboratory to find his book he left behind for them. This book holds writings and blueprints to build machines for different tests to run on the large flying structures, and maybe even stop them.”

Using the Information Gathered from the Three Tests, the Seven Sister Search Through a River for the First Cube Built, 2017
Using the Information Gathered from the Three Tests, the Seven Sister Search Through a River for the First Cube Built, 2017
See more of Building a Universe, as well as work from Jacob’s other series, Evolution by viewing our online gallery.

You can see the full Building a Universe story on Jacob’s website.

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New City Space images from Clarissa Bonet

In case you hadn’t heard, we received new work from Clarissa Bonet last week! We are thrilled to share three City Space images with you here.

Fortress_2016
Fortress 2016
In_Between_2016
In Between 2016
Uniform Blue_2016
Uniform Blue 2016

Clarissa on her City Space series:

“The urban space is striking – its tall and mysterious buildings, crowds of anonymous people, the endless sea of concrete. City Space is an ongoing photographic exploration of the urban environment and my perception of it.  I am interested in the physical space of the city and its emotional and psychological impact on the body. These photographs reconstruct mundane events in the city that I have personally experienced or witnessed in public. Stark light, deep shadow and muted color are visual strategies I explore to describe the city.  I use the city as a stage and transform the physical space into a psychological one. The images I create do not represent a commonality of experience but instead provide a personal interpretation of the urban landscape.”

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Clarissa and Tim inspecting proofs of Fortress, In Between, and Uniform Blue.

See more of Clarissa’s work on our website.

 

Ctrl+P: Photography taken offline – Shawn Theodore

We are thrilled to feature the work of our new Ctrl+P: Photography Taken Offline artist Shawn Theodore. Theodore’s images are on view through April 29, 2017.

Shawn Theodore is a multidisciplinary Philadelphia-based artist working in photography, video, and collage. His practice embodies a defiant brand of black artistry; one that focuses on the fragmentation and manipulation of African American and African Diaspora identities and otherness, while exploring concepts of race, spirituality, patriarchy, matriarchy and class structure within disappearing Black communities. Theodore attended Tyler School of Art and received his BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Advertising from Temple University.His solo exhibition highlights include: Church of Broken Pieces ’17, African American Museum in Philadelphia; The Avenues ’16, Painted Bride Art Center; The Avenues, G-Town and Uptown ‘14, Imperfect Gallery and Scribe Video Center; The Avenues; North and West Philly, ‘14 and he has exhibited in several group shows.


Makumbusho, 2016

Church of Broken Pieces
Essayist Teju Cole once marveled at the tonal range in the shadows of an image by Roy DeCarava, musing that these darker areas might have been solid, inscrutable black in the hands of another artist. Given the long history of photographic technologies’ inability to register black skin, the artist’s embrace of subtle, modulated darkness was profoundly radical, especially in an age when mainstream representations of African American life were demanded with bombast or stereotype, if they were demanded at all. With DeCarava, Cole writes, “What is dark is neither blank nor empty. It is in fact full of wise light which, with patient seeing, can open out into glories.”[1]

It is no surprise that Philadelphia-based photographer Shawn Theodore cites the iconic Harlem artist among his greatest inspirations. Shooting entirely in the streets, Theodore relishes the many ways that natural light can caress the skin of his Afro-Diasporic subjects, from a flattening glare, to dapples and highlights that dance across the face, to dramatic shadows that all but obfuscate the body. As in the restrained masterworks of DeCarava, however, even the darkest blacks of Theodore’s images give way to nuanced tonalities upon sustained contemplation—for instance, the men and women who turn away from the camera and into the shadows, granting the viewer only the silhouette of their three-quarter profile.

The Contrapasso of the Beloved Stranger, 2016

In Church of Broken Pieces, Theodore presents a new body of photographs made on the streets of Philadelphia’s African American neighborhoods, many of them shrinking thanks to encroaching gentrification. A self-identified street shooter, Theodore has always found his subjects in chance urban encounters; some of these interactions between strangers have evolved into sustained collaborations, the fruits of which are presented here. This constellation of relationships and the community it sustains, however fleeting, are at the core of Theodore’s work.

Complementary to the intimacy and quiet darkness of many of these photographs, a strand of performative exuberance shines through. Our eyes can’t help but linger on the elegantly understated, trans-diasporic fashions in Theodore’s images, often commanding as much attention as the people themselves. Evoking the saturated palette and dynamic surrealism of the great Viviane Sassen, these photographs capture clothing and bodies in motion without sacrificing an ounce of their exquisite composed-ness. The self-possessed subjects enact the language of fashion spreads, history paintings, street performances, and mystical rites, often simultaneously.

Drawn from the name of a church close to the artist’s childhood home, the title’s self-conscious invocation of biblical grandeur calls to mind the great titles of the Harlem Renaissance and the New Negro Movement. Theodore once asked a pastor friend about the origins of the phrase, who told him that “it had to do with the tradition of smaller churches breaking away from the larger ones to continue their service to the community,” he recalls. Like the church and its powerfully simple words, Theodore’s photographs conjure a transhistorical, transnational community mobilizing against erasure. They show us beauty as history, memory, resistance, and a way forward, shining the same wise light of the artist’s forebears and, little by little, opening out into new glories.


Ctrl+P: Photography taken offline is an exciting venture at Catherine Edelman Gallery inspired by the hundreds of photographs we see on blogs and online galleries. Started in January 2011, CEG introduces Chicagoans to new artists we find while searching the web, exhibiting a small selection of one person’s work every two months, taking the pictures offline and putting them on the wall. It is our goal that Ctrl+P will provide further exposure for these photographers away from the glow of a computer monitor and without the temptation to click to the next link. We hope you will join us by unplugging from the internet and visiting CEG to see these photographs the way they were intended — in print.

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New Heroes by Francesco Pergolesi

After living in Turin for a few months, Francesco Pergolesi was inspired to make new photographs. We are excited to share the new images and look forward to showing all three (and more) in March at The Photography show, presented by AIPAD.

Theodore, 2017
Theodore, 2017
Moira, 2017
Moira, 2017
Amelie, 2017
Amelie, 2017

Francesco’s images made 2016-present are available as 4 x 6″ or 10 x 15″ pigment print mounted to plexi, framed and backlit with LED light and 23½ x 35½” pigment print in an editions of 7 + 2 AP’s and 3 + 2 AP’s, respectively. Pieces range in price from $1500 – $4000, depending on size and availability. You can see the entire Heroes series on our website here.