Peter Myma photos give landscapes new realm of color

Artist's work reminiscent of Weston and Adams

Arts: museums, literature

October 02, 2003|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

Very few contemporary photographers continue to use the cumbersome, oversized 8x10 view camera so beloved by such photographic pioneers as Edward Weston and Ansel Adams.

Peter Myma's large color landscapes at Craig Flinner Gallery through Oct. 29 are a reminder of what we have been missing. He follows in the long American tradition of heroic landscape that Weston and Adams helped claim for photography, while expanding their vision into the new realm of color.

In "Building Storm," for example, Myma exploits the razor-sharp imagery of the 8x10 camera and the glassy, jewel-like surface of Ilfochrome paper to capture in pristine detail the emotional intensity of waxing natural forces. The image recalls Adams' brooding studies of mountains lit by flashes of St. Elmo's fire or Weston's late pictures of ocean swells at Point Lobos.

Many of Myma's images focus on industrial architecture and machinery -- grain elevators, natural gas tanks, railway overpasses, etc. These subjects were exhaustively documented from the 1960s on by Bernd and Hilla Becher, the German husband-and-wife team whose systematic survey of such structures evolved into a photographic archaeology of the industrial age.

But where the Bechers were primarily interested in creating a typology of industrial structures -- they recorded all the buildings in their survey exactly the same way, under exactly the same light -- Myma celebrates the lyrical qualities that make each of his subjects unique.

In "Plow and Fence," for example, the deep orange of a tractor's plow is set aglow by the slanting rays of the setting sun against the ground and fence.

In "Railcar and Field," the complementary colors of freight cars articulate a purely visual language of line and color that invite an emotional response from viewers.

This work is expansive, contemplative and seductive, to be savored by the eye, mind and heart. A companion exhibition of Baltimore and Eastern Shore scenes, executed in watercolors and acrylics by painter Michael Bereznoff, perfectly complements Myma's lyrical, poetic vision.

The gallery is at 505 N. Charles St. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Call 410-727-1863 for more information.

For more art events, see page 42.

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