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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Streetwise America" opening reception at Kehler Liddell this Sunday

Kehler Liddell Gallery
873 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 389-9555
Streetwise America: Hank Paper and Friends
Mar. 4—28, 2010
Opening Reception: Sun., Mar. 14, 3—6 p.m.
Musical Event: SKAmatics in Concert, Sun. Mar. 21, 1:30—3:30 p.m.

Press release

Kehler Liddell Gallery is pleased to present Streetwise America, a group show of photographs, paintings, collage and installation that documents contemporary America and facilitates a conscious consideration of what's happening on our streets. The exhibition features over 40 color photographs by New Haven-based artist Hank Paper, shot over the past five years. A selection of works by Peter Bosco, John Columbus, Steve DiGiovanni, Graham D. Honaker II, Robert Lisak, Maryann Ott, David Ottenstein and Suzan Shutan accompany Paper's work, offering chance similarities and juxtapositions that create new points of departure for reflection on our national identity.

Hank Paper shoots fast with a handheld Leica camera and crops with his lens in the straight, photojournalist style of New York's street photographers of the 60's and 70's: Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus, and Vito Acconci. The invention of digital film in the 80's did not fundamentally change his craft. Major themes in his work are evident in the patterns and behaviors that appear in his images time and time again: sexual role modeling, aging, immigration. His subjects are the people that play out these themes: preoccupied businessmen, wild hookers, concerned parents, assimilated immigrants, museum-going elders. For Paper, the challenge is to puncture the viewer's preconceived notions of his fellow man by making works that reveal his subjects' ever-changing dimensions: the posture of a Hell's Angel walking a toy poodle or the isolation of a lonely schoolgirl at a Christmas pageant.

Paper has dedicated the past 35 years to documenting contemporary society, mining the streets of North America, The United Kingdom, Western Europe, the Middle East and Cuba in search of capturing what he describes as "that revelatory action, or gesture, or face." His work has been exhibited in museum and gallery shows around the world, including The African American Museum in Philadelphia (2006), The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel (1999), The Jewish Museum of New Jersey (2008), the High Point Historical Museum in North Carolina (2001), the Tamarkin's and the Leica Gallery in New York City (2002) and the Morgenthal-Frederics Gallery in New York City (2000). He received the Piedmont Award from the Somers Juried Photography Show for his Terminal Series in 2009 and a grant from the CT Commission on Culture and Tourism for his Ascension Series in 2006.

Together, the artists in this show hope to penetrate mass media image saturation and mitigate the pressure of electronic assault in order to fix on what is elusive and infinitely moving in the face of America today. A fully illustrated, hardbound catalogue with an introduction by Hank Paper will accompany the exhibition.

Peter Bosco's photographs come from a larger body of work titled Fading Places, which attests to the impermanence of things, both animate and inanimate. Bosco photographs many places that are no longer extant, intending to show things as they are and to render them in the most literal way possible. His work has been described as "hymns of sadness", and while they are often about loss, his works ultimately serve to sustain time, place and memory.

John M. Columbus' interest in photography began as a boy in 1960's New Jersey when his parents gave him a Polaroid/Land camera. He studied with photographer Marc Cohen, who influenced his street photography style of "seeing the unusual." Columbus, whose photo assignments have taken him throughout the U.S., the Caribbean, and Europe, currently concentrates on event and magazine photography, exhibiting his work, and drumming in the SKAmatics, a ska/jazz band that will perform in the gallery on Mar. 21.

Steve DiGiovanni blurs the line between painting and photography (see image) by incorporating digital photography in his paintings. DiGiovanni culls Internet images, old magazines and personal photographs, all of which he incorporates in his works in acrylic on canvas. Inspired by his imagination, his compositions are often free associative and improvisational, reflecting his ongoing interest in the wide range of painting's possibilities.

Graham D. Honaker II is an Abstract Expressionist whose paintings comment on contemporary society, with subjects ranging from potentially harmful political structures to the simple poetics of everyday life. Influenced by Existentialism, which emphasizes the act of creating, Honaker exercises his subconscious through "auto-painting." At the same time, his observations of the perpetually shifting world around him and his place in it are conveyed in his often-intricate and highly conceptual subject matter.

Robert Lisak is a photographer based in New Haven, who recently published a catalogue on the architecture of his city's historic churches. Lisak received his MFA from the Yale School of Art, and is currently a member of ASMP and an adjunct Professor of Photography at Sacred Heart University.

Maryann Ott is inspired by dreams, hallucinations, flights of imagination, and the mind's eye. She feels that if she could map the streets, alleys and hidden pathways of her inner life, she'd be a wiser person. Instead, she is a photographer, capturing what she can and making it hers.

David Ottenstein has been pursuing fine-art/documentary photography, exploring interiors of abandoned and decaying buildings in the northeast and the vanishing agrarian landscape of the Midwest.

Suzan Shutan is a New Media Sculptor, Installation and Video Artist straddling the worlds of two and three dimensions.

There will be an opening reception for this show on Sun., Mar. 14, from 3-6 p.m.

The following Sunday afternoon, Mar. 21, will feature a musical performance by the SKAmatics ska/jazz band from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

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