Baltz shows candid view of wastelands

April 04, 1991|By Mike Giuliano | Mike Giuliano,Special to The Evening Sun

Photographer Lewis Baltz doesn't make pretty pictures. H likes to take his camera into what he calls the "margins and edges" of the landscape, those dumping grounds so often found between the city and country. His sequences of black-and-white photographs present blunt images of the tires and wrecked appliances that litter and transform the natural environment.

Few of us want to even acknowledge -- much less treat as photographic subject matter -- such urban wastelands, but they are the centerpiece of Baltz's exhibit in the library gallery of the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

"I look on this as another kind of raw data," the 45-year-old photographer said during an interview at the gallery. "I'm treating the objects with a kind of veneration usually used for objects of a known beauty."

Born and raised in California, Baltz has done some of his best-known photographic series there at San Francisco's Candlestick Point and San Quentin Point. However, the widely traveled photographer has also come to know many other landscapes -- among them Maryland -- and his many exhibits include shows at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington and the Baltimore Museum of Art in the mid-1970s.

Baltz generally works in serial format, so that we see the series of photographic images arranged on the wall and then must try to read meaning into how they relate to each other. His strategy is akin to theories of film editing in which meaning resides not in an individual image but in a sequence of images. To be a bit more esoteric about it, meaning really resides in the space between images where the viewer makes abstract connections.

"New Environments/New Projects: Photographs by Lewis Baltz" remains in the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery of the University of Maryland Baltimore County through July 28. Call 455-2270.

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