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By Suzanne Révy, Associate Editor
Late last spring, the New England School of Photography learned that they would have to move from their Kenmore Square location about a year earlier than they had originally anticipated after their building in Boston had been sold. Fortunately, they found a building in Waltham that would suit most of their needs without a lot of renovations and after a whirlwind of activity this past September, they found themselves moved. They remain committed to teaching analog photography, but the new building lacked darkrooms. Construction has begun on them, and they should be ready for classes this spring.
One thing that needed no work was the beautiful gallery space at the main street entrance of this building; the new Garner Center Gallery is more accessible than it was in Kenmore Square with beautiful big windows that allow passersby to easily see what is on view, and anyone entering the school will be treated to one of several shows planned for the year. The inaugural solo show in this space is a selection of large scale prints by Neal Rantoul of pictures made last summer in Iceland on view through February 9th, 2018.
Rantoul describes Iceland as primordial, and to visit with a camera is to witness our world at its earliest stages. He describes the feeling that civilization fades from consciousness, and he sees and feels the essence of land, water, sky and weather. These abstract compositions reveal the violence of the birth of new volcanic land, though the soft neutral palette of grey summer days softens the edges.
The show opens with a view of a small town, Hosfos (1), circled by the gentle arc of a rushing white river in the foreground and a winding road leading into the distance; it is the only image that reveals a human imprint on the land. In another, Near Hofn, we are treated to a mysterious mountain rising above a creamy bank of ashen clouds, and in another, Hosfos (2) (feature image), the charcoal texture of a cliff face is remarkably beautiful. A few images made from a boat ride along an inlet reveals a drama between water and steep escarpments, and in one, The Rose on the Cape, Rantoul’s framing reveals the anthropomorphic shape of maybe a large elephant, though the title suggests a delicate flower. And bird guano emphasizes a gestural sense of movement across the surface of rocks in The Cape creating a delicate organic shape.
As he photographed Iceland’s sparse landscape, Rantoul was reminded of photography’s essence, “we make analogies of large by photographing parts, we make pictures of vastness by utilizing metaphor from some smaller space to some greater space.” With its large windows on Moody Street in Waltham, MA, Rantoul’s prints fill the new gallery space handsomely from inside and even as seen from the street. The New England School of Photography is settling into its new digs with artful grace.
274 Moody Street, Waltham
January 16th though February 9th
Gallery Hours Monday-Wednesday, 9am to 5pm, Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Feature Image: Hofsos (2)
Photography by Neal Rantoul
Courtesy of the artist and the Garner Center Gallery at NESOP.