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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kodachrome Memories in Portrait Society's 'Casa Happiness'

Art Review

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After 75 years in production, the popular film Kodachrome ended its run in December 2010. The Portrait Society Gallery provides a farewell to Kodachrome—its saturated hues, defined shadows and delineated colors—in a three-part exhibition series titled "More Than Real: The Death of Kodachrome." In the exhibition "Casa Happiness: A Project by Julia Taylor" in Gallery A, the Portrait Society presents photographs from a 1957 honeymoon in Cuba.

Julia Taylor scanned and printed the slides, taken in 1957 by Martin Drinka, on Aurora fine art archival paper. The images record a time past and yet eternal, intimate and yet remote. Superb colors illustrate the Cuban city and seascapes to document a new marriage. Who would imagine that their honeymoon pictures would one day become an art exhibition?

Drinka had a discerning eye and remarkable aptitude for photography. One photo captures the new Mrs. Drinka standing by a stone gate colored a sumptuous lemon yellow, with the words "Casa Happiness" written in red on white wood pediment. Mrs. Drinka wears a sleeveless white blouse tucked into a black pencil skirt, with a small circle of a hat on her dark hair. The gate perfectly frames her pose, demonstrating Drinka's sense for dramatic imagery.

The honeymoon will be forever etched in Kodachrome, a technology buried in the past. It begs the question: What became more real over the past 50 years: memories in the mind or the method for capturing those memories on paper?

Whichever may be true, Kodachrome immortalized a spectrum of hues in such richness that images resembled a dream—romanticized memories made bigger than life. This exhibition deftly captures time gone by—for Cuban life, Kodachrome and youth.

"Casa Happiness: A Project by Julia Taylor" continues through July 10.