Lamb's photos bring out the souls of flowers, plants

Critic's Corner - - Art

No detail escapes in the large format images

Art Column

February 07, 2007|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,Sun Art Critic

Amy Lamb's stunning floral photographs, on view at Steven Scott Gallery in Owings Mills, inspire wonder on so many levels - aesthetic, symbolic, scientific and metaphysical - that it almost seems a cop-out to enjoy them purely as visual embodiments of sensuous delight. But surely they are that, too.

Lamb has said that her photographs of rare flowers and plants are comparable to portraits; her images are as much character and personality studies as they are precise physical descriptions. In a Lamb photograph, one can never quite get over the suspicion that flowers may also possess souls.

Lamb was trained as a biologist, and she has a scientist's appreciation for the complexity of living systems and the way their forms follow their function. Her photographs convey an intuitive grasp of nature's deep symmetries that recur throughout the universe from the molecular to the galactic scale.

Her most recent photographs, for example, include an image of borago officinalis, a tiny, blue star-shaped flower of Syrian origin with a bristly stem and leaves and five narrow, triangular petals.

In nature, the flower is scarcely larger than the baby's breath blossoms florists use as bouquet fillers, but in Lamb's photograph its diminutive petals are enlarged to near-monumental scale. Thus the artist persuades us that the minuscule and the magnificent share a common origin, and that the invisible, animating forces of nature announce themselves alike through the infinitesimal and the stupendous.

Amy Lamb: Recent Large-Scale Floral Photographs runs through May 28 at Steven Scott Gallery, 9169 Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills. Call 410-902-9300 or go to stevenscott gallery.com.

Artscape contest

The Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts has announced that Artscape, the city's annual outdoor summer arts festival, will award a $25,000 Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize to an outstanding regional artist for the second year in a row. The winner will be named July 13; this year's Artscape runs July 20-22.

In addition to the cash prize awarded to the winner, the six finalists in the competition will have their work displayed at the Baltimore Museum of Art from June 23 to Aug. 25. The competition is open to artists from Maryland, Washington, Delaware and parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The deadline for applications is Feb. 23. Applicants should include a CD-ROM containing five jpeg images of their work, a one-page resume, a signed and completed application form and an image description form along with a $25 application fee. For details call 410-752- 8632 or go to artscape.org.

New York debut

It's always a pleasure to note the occasion of a Baltimore artist's New York gallery debut. Photographer Jack Eisenberg has been documenting everyday life in his native Baltimore and in Israel for more than three decades. His work is on view this month in a two-man show with Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer Edward Keating at the Leica Gallery in Manhattan.

The show grew out of an article about Eisenberg's work that appeared last year in the magazine of Columbia University, where both Eisenberg and Keating were students during the 1960s. The exhibition is a retrospective that presents about 45 of Eisenberg's images of Baltimore and Israel and a comparable number of more recent photographs by Keating.

The Columbia Collection: Photographs by Jack Eisenberg and Edward Keating runs through March 3 at the Leica Gallery, 670 Broadway, Suite 500 in New York. Call 212-777-3051 or e-mail leicaphoto@aol.com.

glenn.mcnatt@baltsun.com

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