Beautiful gallerists, Julian Jimarez Howard and Aliza Kelly Faragher
The golden haze of summer and the enticing draw of adventure in far away places filled the air as I entered OUTLET Fine Art for their opening of Where We’ve Been. The show was the perfect answer to some of the summer’s longstanding questions, and the perfect antidote to the sad realization that the summer cannot last forever.
Nostalgia in the packed gallery on Wilson Ave.
As we all cling to the final treasured weeks of summer, OUTLET celebrates long days and far-off destinations in this current group show which features the photography of Cecilia Espinosa, Matthew Hillock, Tyler Magyar, and Justin Hunt Sloane. The beautifully curated show presents the four artists’ work in a way that allows each of them to shine equally; each photograph resonates in its own way, yet speaks harmonically with its neighbors next to it. Unlike some group shows, every artist’s strong and unique voice came through without overshadowing the others. Overall, the pieces came together in a way to project the show’s desired image: the rich saturation and satisfaction we feel towards the end of a summer well-spent. While I was initially skeptical about the depth of a show that on the surface seems to be focused on that saccharine sweet image of summer and travel, the works activate the space and co-exist so well together that rather than giving me a cavity, I left the gallery with a rich, warm and very deep feeling of nostalgia, as well as the bittersweet twinge of another summer and another year passed.
Art work by Tyler D. Magyar and Ceci Espinosa
Each of the artists brought a different angle to this concept of sense of place, both actual and metaphysical. For example, Tyler Magyar’s photographs initially seem to record and inventory the objects, signs, and everyday moments that might typically go unnoticed. While usually one will focus on landmarks while traveling, Magyar’s work captured those seemingly insignificant moments that, when immortalized in a photograph, begin to take on a new reliquary sensibility. Regardless on the actual subject matter of the photograph, Magyar taps into something deeper than resonates with the viewer; we have all had the experience where an engrained fleeting image can stand in for an entire emotion and take you right back to that moment in time.
Art work by Tyler D. Magyar and Ceci Espinosa
Matthew Hillock’s digitally modified images are warped and distorted, giving the prismatic effect you get when looking sidelong at the summer sun. Aesthetically beautiful and abstract from far away, up close you begin to view the smaller components that make up the composite images. The photographs are taken out of the typical rectangular context, varying in shape, size and complexity. While the basis of the images was sometimes difficult to discern, one can pick out portraits and landscapes, almost as if you are piecing together a long lost memory, or trying to describe an experience to someone who was not there. In a similar way, Justin Hunt Sloane’s risographs– which are screenshot images captured through Google Maps– present decontextualized moments that are free of backstory for the viewer. Taken from a cyber “trip” to Hong Kong, Sloane questions the entire concept of place and being, as he seemingly captures two women walking down a street from thousands of miles away via the internet.
Art work by Mattie Hillock and Ceci Espinosa
Cecilia Espinosa’s vibrant and stunning photographs truly represent a more traditional sense of place, travel and memory. Her photographs, shot on a vintage medium format camera, capture moments that we would like to remember: the unimaginably azure blue of the South American sky; the simplicity of an empty dirt road ahead, hazy with dirt kicked up from an prior traveler; the quiet and profound impact of the camera capturing and preserving a moment.
The incredible diversity of the four artists in this show is astounding in the way that they all manipulate and affect our sense of place and memory. Never completely honest, a photograph does not put the viewer in that place of the photo. Each of the artists plays with this concept of the way a memory- even someone else’s- can effect the way we see a place or experience a work of art. Walking through the gallery, the viewer has the chance to learn four very different stories that are believable or not, real or illusory; moments in time that are no longer there, or perhaps never were. If that doesn’t give you a knot of nostalgia in your throat, then I don’t know what does.
Where We’ve Been is currently on view at OUTLET Fine Art until September 1, gallery hours are 2-6PM on Saturdays and Sundays.