New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Susan Wides
Art & Entertainment
R. Wayne Parsons
Susan Wides

Susan Wides’s “Art and Entertainment” is a mildly diverting exhibition of large color photographs (is there any other type these days?). Its first problem is lack of sufficient focus, a situation suggested by the broad latitude of the title. The nine prints displayed cover a good bit of ground –- interior shots of the two Mets (Museum and Opera) and another museum (the Guggenheim) as well as a retail store, New York street scenes, and a snowy Central Park. The show would be stronger if any one, but only one, of these possibilities were explored in greater depth.

My other reservations go more to the heart of what the photographer is doing. She relies on two tricks, an off-kilter horizontal and selective focus. Tilting the camera results in a vertiginous image that is appropriate in certain situations, but it’s overdone here and the images are not necessarily improved with its use.

Selective focus has become another oft-employed technique in contemporary photography. While traditional camera techniques allow for selective focus through the use of aperture settings and choice of focal point (and, in the case of view cameras, camera movements), there are precise optical limitations to what can be blurred and to what extent. Digital processing software such as Photoshop, on the other hand, allows the photographer to blur any part of the image to any degree. While the combination of blurry/sharp is one way of focusing our attention on part of the image, it can become an end in its own right, something that is used because it’s there; this series veers too often in that direction. Results are decorative but not especially revealing of any deeper truths or experiences of life in the city. I looked for, but couldn’t find, the “cradled interiority of New York City” promised on the gallery’s website.

Susan Wides
Art & Entertainment

Kim Foster
529 W 20th St. 1st Fl
Chelsea         Map

212 229 0044

Saturday, May 1 to
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Hours: Tues-Sat, 11 to 6