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A murmur in the trees – to note-
Not loud enough- for wind-
A star- not far enough to seek-
Nor near enough- to find
By Elin Spring and Suzanne Révy
Finally, we seem to have hit the tipping point on springtime and the world is coming back to life. All around us, trees tell the story. Barren branches suddenly offer the promise of rebirth with tender buds and nestling newborns. What better season to celebrate the tree’s time-honored metaphor for life? And what better place than in the Griffin Museum of Photography’s generous exhibition space in the Lafayette City Center Passageway at Boston’s Downtown Crossing? The arboreal photographs of sixty-six artists, have been brought together by Griffin Museum Executive Director Paula Tognarelli in Tree Talk, a flowing narrative that will be on view through June 4th, 2018. The public is invited to a free Gallery Talk on Saturday, May 5th at 4:00pm, followed by a Reception at 5:00pm, with many of the artists in attendance.
With an exhibit this substantial and a curator this creative, the imagery selected spans a spectrum nearly as long as the gallery hallway, displaying abstract to metaphorical views and traditional to alternative process techniques. It is a gathering by turns contemplative, intriguing and humorous. To whet your appetite, we’re highlighting some of the captivating images that express Tree Talk’s recurring themes.
We were excited to see artists utilizing both contemporary and archival alternative photographic processes to convey original viewpoints, from Doug Fogelson’s spectacular color-shifted tree photogram and Craig Becker’s vibrant digital juxtaposition of agrarian and industrial landscapes to Mike Zeis’ kitchy old hotel sentimentally captured on color film and Kev Filmore’s wavy emulsion transfer creating an existential picture frame for her venerable tree.
Anne Berry’s stunning photogravure of donkeys convened beneath a corridor of moss-covered trees makes time stand still. We thought that images with a similarly meditative viewpoint were captured particularly well in the B&W prints on view. Brian Kosoff seizes a majestic sweep of the Tuscan hills while Frank Armstrong’s rich tonal range highlights a sparkling stand of trees against a dark mountainous backdrop in Big Ben National Park, Texas. Karen Bell’s waterside trees whisper through a chilly fog in Versailles while Benjamin Dimmitt’s lithe palms appear misty counterparts to their dark reflections in the creek below. Dawn Watson captures the opulent, warm glow of an early spring forest in her graceful color print, “The Sensal Woods” (Feature Image).
Meg Birnbaum’s lush sepia toned gelatin silver photograph and Carol Erb’s texturally layered digital print take different approaches to equally mystical character studies of ancient trees cloistered deep in the forest. Tactility reigns in Jane Paradise’s nearly abstract juxtaposition “Rock Marries Tree” and in Jeanne Hildebrand’s delicate suggestion of branching forms in a rock face. Degrading leaves form an intricately patterned veil in Susan Keiser’s “As in a Season of Autumn” while the falling snow fashions a celebratory cameo for Sandra Klein’s “Snake Tree.”
Some of the photographs offer revelations, as in Adam Davies subtle and amusing “Smiling Tree.” Humor is trumpeted more boldly in the connections between nature and vibrantly fabricated manmade facsimiles captured in the serendipitous photographs by Mark Indig, Colleen Mullins and Mark Levinson.
Tree Talk offers a delightfully varied walk through the woods, with contributing artists: Roger Archibald, Frank Armstrong, Craig Becker, Karen Bell, Patricia A. Bender, Anne Berry, Meg Birnbaum, Todd Bradley, Joy Bush, Jessica Chen, Robert Dash, Adam Davies, Adrienne Defendi, L. Aviva Diamond, Barbara Diener, Benjamin Dimmitt, Estelle Disch, Alex Djordjevic, Ken Dreyfack, Mitch Eckert, Carol Erb, Diane Fenster, Kev Filmore, Doug Fogelson, Connie Gardner Rosenthal, Conrad Gees, Linda Haas, Law Hamilton, Charlotta Hauksdottir, Jeanne Hildenbrand, Mark Indig, Carol Isaak, Diana Nicholette Jeon, Doug Johnson, Amy Kanka Valadarsky, Susan Keiser, Sandra Klein, Karen Klinedinst, Brian Kosoff, David Kulik, Susan Lapides, Mark Levinson, Susan Lirakis, Aline Mare, Kevin Miyazaki, Colleen Mullins, Arthur Nager, Bernie Newman, Marcy Palmer, Jane Paradise, Paula Riff, Gordon Reynolds, Gail Samuelson, Holly Roberts, Wendi Schneider, Jean Schnell, Tony Schwartz, Sara Silks, Richella Simard, David Whitney, Vicky Stromee, Dawn Watson, Nina Weinberg Doran, Dianne Yudelson and Mike Zeis.
For more information about the exhibit and/or Gallery Talk and Reception on Saturday, May 5th, 2018, go to:http://griffinmuseum.org/show/tree-talk/
To view or purchase the Tree Talk exhibition catalogue, go to: http://griffinmuseum.org/product/tree-talk/
Feature Image: “The Sensal Woods, 2012” (Detail) by Dawn Watson (courtesy of the artist).