Monday, April 11, 2011

But sometimes big really is good.

Barbara and I are just back from a weekend gallery crawling in Portland. We started at the opening of “The Photographic Nude” at Lightbox,, in Astoria (in which show, I’m proud to state, I have a print). Michael will have jpegs of the entire show up on their website soon. But I digress since the size of the prints in this show ranged from modest to tiny.

Blue Sky gallery in Portland,, on the other hand had two shows of very large prints by Michael Light and Mitch Dobrowner. Mr. Light (nice name for a photographer, eh?) does aerial photographs of southern California and of Arizona. They are sort of a view-from-above riff on David Plowdon’s “Hand of Man on America”. One of his prints, for example, is of a golf course with verdant green fairways glued on top of an arid mesa in Arizona. I find Light’s work both much more moving and much more visually appealing than Richard Misrach’s “Desert Cantos”.

The wall-hung prints are inkjet prints on aluminum sheet. The metallic sheen of the matrix puts a gleam on the highlights and makes the blacks look hard and cold. …. And the prints are BIG! They are 36” or so square and framed without glazing in aluminum frames. They are dazzling! He also makes huge books with pages about the same size as the wall prints that he displays on what I believe are retired studio camera tripods. The books are clearly labeled “Do not turn the book pages. Ask for gallery assistance.”

The other half of the show is Mitch Dobrowner’s photographs of storm clouds and storms. They are also inkjet prints but printed on rag paper. Mr. Dobrowner recently had a portfolio of these photographs in Lenswork magazine #91, His work looked good indeed in the magazine and, to my taste, the glossy surface of the magazine page suited his prints better than the softer rag paper. But I digress again. At Blue Sky he showed prints in three sizes --medium (16x24 or so), large, and huge. I would characterize them as excellent, splendid, and dazzling.

Both Light and Dobrowner are photographing BIG subjects! Both expect the viewer to stand close to the print even though the prints are BIG! Both sets of prints pass the Brooks Jensen size test (see the December 1 blog entry). MAN, why did you print that so BIG? Oh, wait – this time I know the answer to that question.