Diverse works at local galleries

July 25, 1991|By Mike Giuliano | Mike Giuliano,Special to The Evening Sun

Of the three photographers showing at the Knight Gomez Gallery this month, Jennifer Bishop is the most journalistic in her approach. This is hardly a surprise considering that her work has been featured in the City Paper for more than a decade.

Bishop's travels in this country and abroad have resulted in many on-the-road shots that juxtapose the ordinary and the unexpected. In a photo shot in Arizona, for instance, the barren desert is broken by an elevated automobile being used to advertise an auto parts company. What better billboard could there be than an actual car seemingly flying beside the highway? As classic kitsch advertising, it is both vulgar and strangely beautiful.

Mary Kunaniec Skeen often relies on a triptych format for her photographs, which enables her to present variations on studio models with their hands over their heads, their hands in prayer, or, more menacingly, their hands over somebody else's mouth as if to deny that person speech. She also incorporates images of graffiti that, according to her accompanying artist's statement, represent the unconscious speaking. Skeen is obviously exploring the psychological connection between human bonding and bondage, but beyond that her concerns often seem like heady theory that hasn't quite worked itself out yet in practice.

Dan Meyers likes to make photographic assemblages in which the doubled images are reminiscent of a number of photographers who prefer serial formats these days. He also, in his piece "Souvenirs," incorporates different types of wallpaper as a mundane backdrop for his photographic images; this piece also includes a small wooden insert that seems conceptually lifted from the plywood supply of the appropriation-obsessed artist Sherrie Levine. What gives here?

Meyers is more successful in a small photographic series, "Real Events," in which tourist-reminiscent photographs are hard to decipher because of chemical deterioration of the images. It's first of all engaging to try to figure out who is in the pictures, and then equally engaging to think about how our photographic record of real events can fade along with the memories.

On a non-photographic front, Donald Cook is showing in the office gallery of Knight Gomez. His watercolor on paper series "Grave Creek Mound" offers different perspectives and atmospheric conditions at a Native American burial mound in West Virginia. Other works on paper depict abstracted city blocks and Mayan-shaped pyramids. Looking at all these small studies it helps to be familiar with his environmental and architectural interests as fully realized in his sculpture.

The landscape paintings currently on display at the C. Grimaldis Gallery's Charles Street location are a pleasant reminder that the landscape tradition is itself open to innovation. The works range from the exaggerated tonalities of Wolf Kahn to the modest realism of Henry Coe's farmland views. Also showing are Mary Page Evans, Joan Levy, Carl Plansky and Rosalyn Jacobs. The only jarring note is provided by Plansky, who in such paintings as "Jackson Street Tree" and "Byrdcliff" unleashes abstract expressionist gestural energy that he seems unable to resolve in landscape terms.

Photographers Sara Glik and Stephanie Sdanowich are showing at the Katzenstein Gallery. Glik shoots black-and-white photos, but also occasionally adds hand coloring for her nudes and studies of abandoned cars. Using a variety of photographic processes, such as Kodalith, she comes up with sharp contrasts and ghostly glows.

Sdanowich creates color photo montages that make us reconsider our vantage point for such routine settings as a kitchen or staircase. Her work is clever and coherent, but it's hard to look at these overlapping photographs without thinking constantly of David Hockney's recent photographic collages.

Dan Meyers, Jennifer Bishop, Mary Kunaniec Skeen and Donald Cook exhibit at the Knight Gomez Gallery, at 836 Leadenhall St., through July 27. Call 752-2080.

"Perceptual Painting: Landscape" remains at the C. Grimaldis Gallery, at 523 N. Charles St., through July 27. Call 539-1080. A group sculpture and drawing exhibit also runs this month at the C. Grimaldis Gallery's Sculpture Space, at 1006 Morton St. Call 539-1092.

Photographers Stephanie Sdanowich and Sara Glik show at the Katzenstein Gallery, at 729 E. Pratt St., through July 31. Call 727-0748.

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