Friday, March 26, 2010

Forth Magazine Reviews Night Lights Exhibition

by Carolyn Blais

Night—it can be a time of peaceful tranquility when all the world seems to be at rest; or it can be something more sinister—a time when nothing is as it seems. For many of us as children the darkness of the night presented a slew of frights. For me, a vivid imagination too often got the best of me as I saw a desk chair to be an angry lion or a bureau to be a looming monster once the lights turned off. Could it be the world transforms as day turns into night? Or are our minds just playing tricks on us? In any case, for whatever reason our perceptions of things seem to change at night—sometimes making the world more beautiful, other times more mysterious. A walk through the current exhibit at DNJ Gallery entitled “Night Lights” is what spurred these thoughts as the three artists on display present photographs of various scenes, all taken solely at night.

Having been sick for the opening of “Night Lights” on March 13, I head over to West Hollywood one week later on a Saturday afternoon, thankfully feeling much healthier. I climb the stairs to the second floor and enter a bright, clean space with lots of interesting photographs that immediately grab my attention.

In the first room lives the photos of Bill Sosin, a Chicago based photographer whose photos on display are all taken from inside his car. The results of driving around Chicago at night in various rain storms are the images of things like headlights, blaring red and out of focus, and shadowy silhouettes adorned with umbrellas and hats. With the pane of glass in front of the lens and the rain to boot, it’s sometimes difficult to figure whether these silhouettes are predators lurking in the dark corners of the city, or just hustling pedestrians on their way home from work. Sosin’s photos capture the essence of nighttime existence in the midst of busy city life where one must use discretion in interrupting their surroundings as the glare of artificial, neon light is often the only thing that guides one’s path, while at the same time blinding one’s focus.

Bill Sosin, Stop Lights
Bill Sosin, Stop Lights, archival
inkjet print, 2006-09, 12 x 18 inches

In the next room my eye is met with black and white photos in square frames. These, the work of artist Ginny Mangrum, are part of a series called Night Moves II which Mangrum explains “grew out of several years of photographing public urban spaces, void of human activity, signage or identification of purpose for the space.” Like Sosin’s work, Mangrum’s photographs are up for interpretation. A man sitting at his desk unaware of the camera, photographed from outside his office window—creepy or uniquely picturesque? Only the beholder can render a verdict. For me, it depends on the picture. “Subway” depicts what it implies—a subway car, at night of course, completely empty with its door open. For some reason, this image is incredibly eerie and makes me feel anxious. On the other hand, “Shop” displays a clothing store window with woman’s clothes worn smartly on two sleek mannequins. One might think mannequins at night to be the epitome of creepy, but for some reason I see this shot as stunning. Such a simple store front one would probably pass by in the day time without a second thought. But at night the bright lights from inside the shop that shine through the paneled glass seem to give the whole store an air of high fashion that would surely make any woman curious as to what is within.

Ginny Mangrum, Dining Room
Ginny Mangrum, Dining Room,
archival lightjet print, 2010, 16 x 20

Helen Garber is the third photographer whose work is currently on display at DNJ. Garber captures a most clever design in her work by taking photos of Venice, Italy and juxtaposing them with photos of the different yet sometimes similar Venice that is Venice, CA. I am touched by the artist’s inspiration: “an 8″ x 10″ photograph of [her] great aunt and uncle sitting in a gondola in the canal in front of the Doge Palace, marked Venice, Italy October 24, 1922.” Having looked at that photo as a child and then through her adult life, Garber finally got to see the real thing in her early 50’s. Anyone who has ever been to Venice, Italy can relate to Garber’s dismay upon realizing that the city’s charming canals and narrow passageway streets are often completely beleaguered by annoying tourists and filthy pigeons. While of course the beauty of the city still exists even under such circumstance, it took nightfall to allow Garber to more adequately document this beauty as most of the tourists had then returned to the comforts of their hotels or cruise ships. In this series of photographs there is, in my opinion, no need to deliberate as to whether the images are beautiful. The nighttime captured in both of these cities that share the same name is utterly breathtaking—whether it be of the canal verses the marina, or of sailboats verses gondolas, every picture made me smile with admiration.

Helen, K. Garber, Boats With Full Moon
Helen K. Garber, Boats With Full
, archival digital print on
canvas, 2010, 22 x 46 inches

“Night Lights” will be on display through May 1st and the exhibit is free to the public. Experience a little night magic through the works of these three very talented photographers whose work will not disappoint.

WHAT: “Night Lights” Group Exhibition featuring Helen K. Garber, Ginny Mangrum and Bill Sosin
WHERE: DNJ Gallery154 ½ North La Brea Ave, LA, CA 90036
WHEN: Now till May 1, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Night Lights" review on the blog 'Publications by Simone Kussatz'

Images: (1). Bill Sosin, BACK DROP, 2006-2009, Archival inkjet print (2.) Ginny Mangrum, SUBWAY, Archival lightjet print (3.) Helen K. Garber, CANAL, 2009, Archival digital print on canvas (diptych)

"DNJ's Exhibit "Night Lights"

Written by Simone Kussatz
Edited by Peter Frank

Three American photographers currently exhibit their work at DNJ Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, Bill Sosin, Ginny Mangrum and Helen K. Garber. The exhibit "Night Lights" is a collection of night photography, made by using completely different approaches.

Bill Sosin’s “urban impressions” were taken mainly in Chicago, shot from the inside of his car in the rain, while his windshield wipers were turned off. We see droplets either resting or dripping down his window in different directions. Whereas the backgrounds of Sosin’s images - the streetlamps, red car brake lights, pedestrians on the streets underneath pendulous umbrellas or lonely objects in storefront windows - are out of focus, the raindrops on the windows are in focus. This dual presentation gives his photographs a pointillist appeal similar to George Seurat’s paintings. Although the exhibit is called “Night lights”, the lights are not the main subject in Sosin’s images. They only play a secondary role, creating the various colors in the water. And the water in its different shapes, either in liquid or vapor form, appearing in different colors, contain an energy which Sosin felt intrigued by and experimented with. Sosin’s images are not manipulated or retouched. He conducted small color adjustments on the Camera RAW file (a hi-res file format used by professionals) and altered the color and contrast of the images according to his emotional response towards them. Through the colorful presentation of the rain in a painterly manner, Sosin’s images appear positive and poetic.

The atmosphere in Ginny Mangrum’s work is quite different. The photographs were shot in black and white and then cut and pasted onto a black canvas in Photoshop. Hence, black dominates the images. As opposed to Sosin, Mangrum shot her pictures looking from the outside in. There is no energy like that in Sosin’s rain drops; instead, everything stands still. The interiors of the public places in Mangrum’s photographs, whether a hotel lobby in Honolulu or a cabin of the Bart station at the San Francisco airport, are empty and inert. Whereas Sosin played with the rain, Mangrum played with the darkness and the psychological elements of empty spaces. After several people close to Mangrum died, she experienced a sense of the void. This is reflected in her work, where she shows how powerful the presence of living beings can be by depicting their very absence. Another aspect that distinguishes Mangrum’s work from the two others' is her conscious choice not to take pictures of people who may have wandered into the frame, to avoid the tension that creates.

While Sosin and Mangrum focused on one city at a time, Helen K. Garber put two cities together. Displayed as diptychs, she juxtaposed images of Venice, California next to images of Venice, Italy. As opposed to Sosin and Mangrum, Garber presents her black and white photographs on canvas, which gives them a painterly quality. Garber’s work -- inspired by an old photograph from 1922 showing her great aunt and uncle sitting in a gondola in the canal in the Italian Venice -- are not just beautiful presentations of two cities. They deal with issues of globalization and Garber’s shattered image of Venice in Italy. When Garber visited there for the first time in 2006, she was shocked by the throngs of tourists in crowded corridors. Hence she regards globalization critically, thinking it destroys rather than adds something to both cities. This reflects in Garber’s work, which shows both Venices with the daytime tourists gone and belonging again to their permanent residents.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Opening Photos From Night Lights

Thanks to everyone who attended the opening last Saturday! Here are some photos from the evening to enjoy. :-)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

“Night Lights” featured on Yo! Venice

Posted by: Bret

DNJ Gallery's new exhibition Night Lights features photographic works by local Venice artist Helen K. Garber as well as Ginny Mangrum, and Bill Sosin. This exhibition brings together three artists whose practice unfolds in the city streets- under the cover of darkness. Their works capture ‘noir’ nightscapes, private moments, and the magical colors of the city after dark. Preview reception Saturday, March 13, 2010 from 6-8 pm.

Helen K. Garber, Courtyard
Helen K. Garber, Courtyard, 2009,
archival digital print on canvas, 16" x 22"

Bill Sosin, Stop Lights
Bill Sosin, Stop Lights, archival
inkjet print, 2006-2009, 20" x 26"

Ginny Mangrum, Dining Room
Ginny Mangrum, Dining Room,
archival lightjet print, 13" x 20"

Helen K. Garber Featured on White Fireworks Blog

DNJ Gallery artist, Helen K. Garber and her newest series titled Venice / Venezia was recently mentioned on White Fireworks.

Helen will be showing this new body of work in a group exhibition featuring Ginny Mangrum and Bill Sosin which will run through May 1, 2010. Preview reception from 4-6pm on Saturday March 13 as well, so be sure to join us!

Helen K. Garber, Canal
Helen K. Garber, Canal, archival
digital print on canvas, 13" x 30"

Posted by: Kathleen Elizabeth
The DNJ Gallery in Los Angeles is showing Helen K. Garber's new series Venice / Venezia, and I'm smitten with her black and white photographs. So the theme is a little obvious -- Venice Beach, CA and Venice, Italy. The silence in these night shots is haunting.

Helen K. Garber said...
Thank you Kathleen. Just to let you know that my work is sugar coated with a deeper message. Pretty to look at, but there to open dialogue about globalization and corporate reach have effected the experience of living in a desirable location. We residents get to pay a fortune to live here while our local government, seeing the better value in attracting tourist or foreign dollars, cater to the day tourist rather than the needs of the residents.

We use the night to enjoy our resources without the burden of making our way through giant crowds. My husband thought my reference to unwanted crowds in my original statement was too negative, until I showed him an email I received from a fellow photographer who has a flat in Venezia. He refers to the tourists as locusts as they spend their big dollars elsewhere and then descend on his city while blocking the passages and spending little to maintain services.

Although you mention that the theme is a little obvious, one wonders why then, with Venice, CA in existence now 105 years, thousands and thousands of artists attracted to living and producing art here, that no one has ever produced such a similar body of work.

One reason would be that although they have shared a similar name and the CA counterpart was originally designed to duplicate the Italian experience, that the grand theme didn't last long and Venice, CA had been a ghetto until it began to gentrify in the 1990's. Establishing a well deserved reputation for not being a place to linger after dark.

It wasn't until very recent times that the residents have shared similar conflicts of gentrification, the rise in home values pushing out the artists and middle class and the nuisance of having to navigate daily life along with masses from around the world.

Thanks for allowing me the forum to better explain my work. My subtle approach can be easily passed over as pretty images without substance...

Laura Parker Armory Show Featured on COAGULA

Congratulations to DNJ Gallery artist, Laura Parker, and her solo exhibition at the Armory Center for the Arts Pasadena! Here are a few opening photos featured on COAGULA's Weekend Bender March 6.

Laura Parker, detail from Rotations and Animations

Laura Parker at opennng

Guest at the Armory opeening

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Annie Seaton will be showing at the Elaine Fleck Gallery in Toronto

Annie Seaton, Honest Ed's, 2009, c-print with acrylic inks, 36 x 24 inches

Congratulations to DNJ Gallery artist, Annie Seaton, for her inclusion in the April 2010 Contemporary Fine Artists You Should Know About group exhibition being held at the Elaine Fleck Gallery in Toronto! Annie will also be included in Elaine's annual catalog featuring gallery artists and thier works, so be sure to check it out.

The opening reception will be held on Thursday April 8, 7 pm - 10 pm.