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“Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who l am
But you know life is for learning
We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden”
Lyrics from “Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell
Especially now, when the calendar suggests “spring” but wandering outdoors around Boston brashly proclaims “winter”, we are all daydreaming about getting back to the garden. You can indulge your fantasies “In the Garden”, a soul-reviving group show featuring photographs by Christine Collins, Beth Dow, John Grant, Brenton Hamilton, Cig Harvey, David Graham White, Wendi Schneider, and Joshua White at Panopticon Gallery through April 30th, 2018. There will be a free, public Opening Reception on March 29th, 2018.
The variety of imagery and techniques in Panopticon’s “Garden” is enticing, from Brenton Hamilton’s seemingly archaic tri-color gum bichromate prints to Joshua White’s delicate “mobile photography.” While Hamilton places vintage sculptural elements into his garden, recreating an Eden-like mystique in large-format photographs, Joshua White removes floral specimens from his yard to compose a typology of flattened and miniaturized cameos. Hamilton’s antique prints are given a fresh, contemporary interpretation with bright white mattes and frames while Joshua White’s mobile images are antiquated with sepia toning and vignette edging “apps” to elegant effect.
John Grant’s silky, sensual peony deceives its modern capture using a scanner as camera. Grant enhances dimensionality in his enveloping close-up with depth of field, while the darkly contrasting background lends a soft, sculptural quality to the flower’s sharply defined realism. Wendi Schneider’s training in painting manifests itself in textured-seeming surfaces that lend a layered effect to her dreamy, romantic images of nature. With serenity as her muse, Schneider digitally captures and manipulates her images, then prints on a translucent vellum backed with white gold leaf, infusing her prints with spiritual grace.
Cig Harvey’s photographs are vibrantly saturated forays through orchards and city gardens, fields and greenhouses. Each conveys a poetic narrative that invites the viewer into a world of wonder. Christine Collins explores the utility of the garden and sustainability of nature’s endangered species in her contemplative depictions of urban beekeepers. Highlighting the functional beauty of natural spaces, Collins’s photographs convey a sense of solemn ritual at a botanical altar.
In order for gardens to endow beauty and sustenance, they must be protected and tended. David Graham White’s long and frigid Canadian winters necessitate the individual burlap-wrapping of trees, a practice that he documents in his metaphorical series “Shroud.” Paradoxically reminiscent of the Becher’s industrial typologies, White’s richly rendered silver gelatin photographs seem to imply a personality in each tree’s shape, shrouded at once in cloth and in mystery, dignity and a biblical spirituality. Beth Dow’s tranquil platinum palladium photographs of English and Italian gardens are as peaceful in spirit as they are formal in structure. Like botanical symphonies, Dow’s precise compositions express balance in linear configurations, variation in natural textures, lyricism in order and sanctuary in stillness.
Reap what Panopticon Gallery has sown “In the Garden”, an inspirational garland of photographs that will lift you out of the winter doldrums through April 30th, 2018. There will be an Opening Reception with some of the artists on Thursday, March 29th, 2018 from 6:00 – 8:00pm. For more information, go to: https://www.panopticongallery.com/in-the-garden/
Please note that Wendi Schneider has a concurrently running solo exhibition, States of Grace, at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA through Tuesday, April 10th, 2018. For information, go to: http://griffinmuseum.org/show/states-of-grace/
Feature Image: “Watering Can, Self Portrait, 2004” (Detail) by Cig Harvey (courtesy of the artist and Panopticon Gallery, Boston).