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Friday, Aug. 3, 2012

"Pixures" at the Grand Avenue

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Housed within the oldest commercial building in Milwaukee, Gallery Grand is a part of the Grand Avenue Club, a community for adults experiencing mental illness. As gallery director Colleen Kassner states, "the GAC members participate in running the gallery, as well as displaying their artwork, alongside the current artists in the gallery."

The current "Pixures" IXURES exhibition showcases several photographers and a short film by J. Shimon & J. Lindemannn of poet Bob Watt, which was a slightly different and interesting edition to the show. Curator Phillip"Philo" Kassner (check out his recently published photo book Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall) gave free range to the photographer artists to exhibit whatever they wished. Some of the more notable works were those of Deone Jahnke, Harvey Taylor, Dale Hester, Bill Zuback, and my favorite of the night, Michael Flasch.

Jahnke's photographs resemble average still images at first look.  But as Jahnke explains, she is using a technique she calls "pintimento," whereby her original photos are pigmented, and layered over with other images. Taylor's colorful shapes do not appear to be photographs.  It's a technique he refers to as "light painting," with colors that shifted from bright to darker for an organic contrast. Glancing at them from a distance, one might presume them to be heat images, generated via satellite.

An amusing series in the show was by Zuback's "Life in Miniature" featuring black and white photographs of vegetables and tiny furniture.  With titles like Not Me (showing a pepper on a couch) and Eggplant Xmas, the photos depicted the artist's message quite humorously. Zuback's well-crafted pieces of miniature furniture were works of art on their own.  Furthering the theme of miniature, the photographs were about 6 inches square, forcing the viewer to take a closer look.

The artist who really caught my attention was Flasch.  He has taken portraits and layers smaller photographs over the top, creating a pattern.  Only upon closer inspection are the patterns discernible as photographs of models in white tights with patterns from slides projected on them. Flasch's portraits are not what they appear.  On initial viewing they look like graphic art, but after absorbing the image at face value, as you continue to look, the richness and complexity come into view.

Hester is a resident member whose black and white photographs of lightening, fireworks and flames, were an exercise in freezing light in time.  His photographs elicit a sense of awe in the power behind the explosion of light against a dark background.

Barbara Miner displayed portraits of protestorss from the Overpass Light Brigade holding up the illuminated letters support of the striking workers at Palermo's Pizza. When we see their protests on a freeway overpass, we simply see the message. Showing the faces of the protesters along with that message invoked a personal light.

The show will run through September.