Two exhibits . . . go soon!

Things finally settled down after our vacation, Independence Day, and The MathWorks’ annual summer outing to Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. (Sort of. I’m in Wisconsin right now. But more on that later.) So I finally got the chance to see a couple of photography exhibits with Lisa last weekend.

First up: “In Focus: 75 Years of Collecting American Photography” at the Addison Gallery of American Art. We’ll leave aside for a moment the fact that Andover’s Phillips Academy is larger in area than many undergrad institutions, costs over $35,000 per year to attend, and has a better art collection than many public museums. That’s more or less immaterial to a review of the show, except to point out the resources the gallery has drawn upon to build its substantial collection. The show spans the full range of who’s who in American photography (plus a few foreigners they seem to have adopted) . . . at least until photography went color. So it’s both deep and broad from the old topographic survey folks of the late 1800s through the “New Topographers” of the late 1960s.

So why stop there? The exhibit is well presented, with rooms dedicated to street photography, social commentary, landscape, architecture, modernism, and so on. But the groupings highlight two things: (1) it’s largely black and white, straight photography that ends at 1980, and (2) the body is mostly missing — with the exception of a few Mapplethorpes. (There were exceptions, of course.) Did the curatorial staff arbitrarially leave them out intentionally? Have they been reluctant to buy newer works from comparatively unknown artists? Have patrons not donated new pieces recently?

Still, it was quite a tour of the major aspects of American photography. And a few images really stood out, especially a large Adam Fuss photogram, a three panel screen by Lorna Simpson, and several grids of images related to suburban development in Colorado and Nevada. Try to see it before it closes on July 30, 2006. (That’s Sunday, y’all.)

If you travel just a couple of towns south of Andover to the Griffin Photography Museum in Winchester, you can easily take in the much smaller “12th Annual Juried Show.” It was a good show overall, though different than last year’s show. The Griffin and its jurors have a particular aesthetic, which resulted in a really strong and consistent exhibit. It’s definitely smack in the middle of what’s “hip” in photography right now. I wish I could remember particular artists’ names/titles, but you’ll just have to see it yourself. It’s up until August 13.

After we took a leisurely tour of the small exhibit space, I took another quick look around the whole exhibit. As you might remember, I sent entries to the show, but as I surveyed it I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t get in. There really wasn’t a subgrouping where my images would have fit into this show thematically. But huge props to Newton Camera Club member Marshall Goff for getting into the show (though I can’t find the particular image online.)

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