PHOTO Photographers at Stanford

Posted on: May 20th, 2014 by Henry Bowles
Press Release from Dewitt Chang, Curator at Stanford Art Spaces
Stanford Art Spaces is pleased to announce that its May-June 2014 art exhibit will feature the large-format color photographs of Steve Goldband and Ellen Konar, a Portola Valley couple working as a team (as well as independently), and the digital photo collages of Henry Bowles, shown last fall at PHOTO Gallery in Oakland. These elegant, poetic works by master photographers combine personal visions with impeccable craft.
The Pacific Rim Exposures exhibition by Goldband and Konar spans the Pacific, according to the website, Goldband.com. In Naoshima, Japan, “a small island in the inland Sea of Japan covered in granite and weathered soil, and the unlikely home to world-class modern art, design and the expansive architecture of Tadeo Ando,” we see architectural interiors raised to the level of lyrical abstraction, “geometries of light, color and structure.” On the eastern edge of the Pacific Plate stands the Neskowin Ghost Forest on Oregon’s coast, “where a strand of ancient fir trees was buried by an earthquake 2,000 years ago. Preserved by salt water, the anthropomorphic profiles of the ancient tree stumps emerge and pose at low tide.” The panoramic Neskowin images suggest Roman-columned Romantic ruins and evoke similar philosophical sentiments. Supplementing these uninhabited photos are earlier photos from Cuba that document that island’s rich colonial architecture, eroded and painterly, and its colorful inhabitants: two brothers, striped to their shorts in the heat, pass time on the street in front of iron-grilled windows; a vibrant young woman, more alluringly dressed than American companies would permit, takes a cigar break at a Partagas factory, while a colleague peers from a tiny cashier’s window that irresistibly suggests a mouse hole; teenaged girls stride along enjoying ice creams, while young men lean against a bar wall, awaiting drink service.
Henry Bowles’s thirty-one digital collages in Matches explore a voluntarily limited subject matter—burning and burnt wooden matches— conceptually, but with feeling and imagination. Bowles: “Transformation by fire is a process with a predictable outcome, but at the same time, one that can be uncertain and surprising. In Matches this concept is layered with details related to personal and cultural transformation. The burning matches are a background reminder of the inevitability and finality of change.” It is, of course, a metaphor for living, and especially for living intensely: “burning with a hard, gemlike flame,” for example, was art critic Walter Pater’s oft-cited goal of the 1890s generation of Oscar Wilde and others. Bowles’ collaged images with their ambiguous, scaleless interweavings of color and texture are evocative contemporary carpe diem images: seize the day while you can. Professor James Travers of the Berkeley Photographic Critical Laboratory poetically interprets the archetypal symbolism, “the private language of artists,” comprising, here, Masonic symbols, skulls, rose petals, tulip blossoms, serpentine forms, wheels, candelabras, starry night skies, checkerboard floors, flags, a Titian Madonna, Zenobia, the queen of Palmyra in Roman times—as well as a Syrian rebel soldier, The Game of Thrones and single-malt whiskeys—all informing and enriching the theme of transmutation and transfiguration.
There will be a reception for the artists on Thursday, May 29, from 4:30 to 7:00pm. The artists and the curator will discuss the work at 6:00. Parking at all university lots and structures is free after 4:00. For more access information, please see attached map or contact the curator (at phone/e-mail listed below).
An artist catalogue on Henry Bowles’ Matches series will be available, as will 16″x20″ exhibition posters for Goldband/Konar and Bowles, printed by Anselmo Image Works of Redwood City.

Stanford Art Spaces is an exhibition program serving the Paul G. Allen Building, housing the Center for Integrated Systems, the program’s longtime sponsor, and the David W. Packard Electrical Engineering Building, with smaller venues located throughout campus. All are open during normal business hours. For further information, or to arrange a tour, please contact Curator DeWitt Cheng at 650-725-3622 or dewittc@stanford.edu.