Photographic exhibit frames details of city sites



The trolley-car waiting shed near Charles and St. Paul streets is a remnant from another era.

The trolley cars are long gone. Patrons no longer wait there. And yet the shed remains, a curiosity in Baltimore's urban landscape, so large and different from today's see-through bus shelters.

This is the sort of architectural artifact that draws the attention of James DuSel, a photographer who captures bits and pieces of Baltimore's past.

A flight of stairs at the Maryland Institute College of Art. The base of a column at the Rotunda shopping center. An empty niche outside the Baltimore Museum of Art.

DuSel doesn't so much go for the complete image as he does fragments of Baltimore's architectural heritage - beguiling parts that indicate there is more to the story, more to be seen.

Look Again in Baltimore is the title of an exhibition of DuSel photographs that opens Friday in the gallery of Evergreen House, the Johns Hopkins University-owned house museum at 4545 N. Charles St., and runs through Jan. 3.

It's a sampling of images from a book with the same title that the Johns Hopkins University Press is publishing this month, featuring more than 80 DuSel photographs and text by former Sun art critic John Dorsey.

Both the exhibit and the book encourage viewers to look at architecture in new ways and become more conscious of the details around them.

In the book's introduction, Dorsey describes his own reaction to DuSel's photographs, saying, "Sometimes they made you slap your forehead and think, `My God, I've seen that building a hundred times, but I never noticed that before.' So often they caught the essence of a building or an aspect of architecture that a more inclusive picture would have missed."

Although DuSel documents buildings, his photographs are experiential and subjective rather than factual, and communicate "the essence or spirit of a work of architecture," Dorsey says.

DuSel, who teaches Latin and Greek in the upper school at Loyola Blakefield, says he wants viewers of his work to become better observers of their surroundings.

"The point of these images is to offer a way of looking at the environment," he says. "They're basically to provoke people not just to look again, but to think again."

Many of the images have a forlorn quality to them, a sense of melancholy. None shows people in the picture, but many seem as if someone just stepped out of the frame - or might step in.

DuSel says he tries to capture a sense of humanity by creating images of the monuments and places people have left behind - and through them the ideals and aspirations they once had.

"I think the environment is haunted by the lives of those who have lived before," DuSel says. "But I don't think you find them in the big, overall shots. You find them in the quiet nooks and crannies of buildings. ... Even the emptiness [of a space] reveals something."

The exhibition opens with a reception Friday from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. DuSel will give a guided tour of the exhibition at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The book will be sold in Evergreen's museum shop beginning Oct. 27.

Evergreen House is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with tours offered on the hour. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for students and children over 6, and $5 for seniors.

A second exhibit

Look Again in Baltimore is one of two exhibitions at Evergreen House that celebrate architectural details. The second, also opening Friday, is House Guests: Subjective Truths, featuring the work of photographer and architect Mehmet Dogu.

The exhibition combines photography, installation and architecture in interpretive composites that examine the history and collections of the Garrett family, former inhabitants of Evergreen House. Dogu will lead a tour of his work on Saturday at 2 p.m.

In both cases, the artists are concerned with the details of their surroundings and encourage viewers to consider objects in new ways, says Evergreen's curator, Jackie O'Regan.

"Although our temptation is often to experience the whole and then isolate the smaller parts," O'Regan says, "reversing this process can expand one's experience of an object, a painting or a building, and create an entirely new perspective."

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