New York Photo Review
Volume 4 Issue 24 May 28 to June 3, 2013

The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino

Southern Stories

Scenes from the South 1936 - 2012

Photo by Dorothea Lange . Source:
Dorothea Lange, "Greenville, Mississippi" 1938.

There’s much to like about this engaging group show that features iconic and near-iconic names. Eggleston, Frank, Evans, Lange, Abbott, Meyerowitz, Friedlander, Christenberry, Burtynsky, Sekaer, Burke and Gedney share wall space with five relatively unknown contemporary photographers (think “emerging artist”.) While each artist’s work here is generally different in style and scope, many of the images do share one common trait: they capture the sense of place that, for better or worse, gives the South a unique position in American culture.

Photo by William Eggleston . Source:
William Eggleston, "Greenwood, Mississippi" 1973.

While the large (44 x 60 inch) pigment print of Eggleston’s “Greenwood, Mississippi, 1973” (light bulb on red ceiling) is hard to miss, some appreciably smaller images call for a closer look. For instance, Mikael Kennedy’s sepia-toned Polaroid of New Orleans’s Lower Ninth was taken in 2008 but could be from the 1930’s. Another Polaroid of his, entitled “David, Richmond, Virginia, 2008,” is a series of angles—a hand holding a cigarette artfully rests on the smoker’s crossed legs, his cowboy boot stirring up memories of a long-gone Marlboro country. There’s also work by Peter Sekaer who worked closely with Walker Evans. “Men’s Room, Atlanta 1936” is a favorite; we see two men in overcoats standing in front of urinals, signs advertising everything from 35 cent haircuts to 25 cent baths hanging all around them. I did look for a “White Only” sign” but there was none. Walker Evans captures the irony in “Houses and Billboards, Atlanta, 1936;” it shows a movie poster advertising Carole Lombard (glamorous star of the era) in “Love Before Breakfast” pasted on a fence in front of two dingy, weather-beaten frame houses.

Photo by William Gedney . Source:
William Gedney, "Kentucky, 1972" .

William Gedney’s two portraits of Kentucky men, beautifully framed by car windows,look Depression-era but they were shot in 1972. Nashville artist Joshua Black Wilkins also seems to capture another era with “Huntsville, 2008”––his in-your-face front view of an old, broken-down bus with smashed windshield and “Whitesburg Baptist Church” on the front. You wonder what the bus’s back story was. In “Greenville, Mississippi, 1938,” Dorothea Lange captures the essence of the south with her portrait of a man with a bushy white mustache sitting in a rocking chair on the proverbial front porch. The solid column to his right evokes imagery of a colonial-style mansion. Can the servants be far away?

Photo by Caroline Allison . Source:
Caroline Allison, "Angel Oak, John's Island, South Carolina" 2012.

It’s also hard to forget Caroline Allison’s image of a giant Angel Oak tree on John’s Island in South Carolina with its branches spread out like the arms of an octopus. The photograph will grab you, as will the rest of this exhibition.

Scenes from the South 1936 - 2012
Curator: Susan Sherrick

Howard Greenberg
41 E 57th St. 14th Fl
Midtown         Map

212 334 0010

Friday, May 3 to
Saturday, June 1, 2013
Hours: Tues - Sat, 10 to 6

Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat