When I drove down to the Elizabeth Moss Gallery in the Falmouth, Maine, Shopping Center, the show I expected to see was not there. I was expecting photographs and all I found were paintings and picture frames. Turns out A Picture’s Worth, the photo show I was looking for, was hung in temporary space less than a mile down the road. When I found it, A Picture’s Worth wasn’t quite what I expected either. Wow, what a show it was!
I went to Liz Moss’s photography show to review it for The Forecaster, the Greater Portland weekly for which I write a weekly column, but I decided to post a notice here as well, both because A Picture’s Worth is every bit as good as most museum shows I have seen and because, even though few Yankee readers are apt to get to it before it closes March 29, most of the photographers included have website to which I can link you. If you’re serious about fine art photography, click away.
A Picture’s Worth, which features 128 photographs by 25 Maine photographers, is arguably the best Maine photography show since Photographing Maine, 1840-2000, a comprehensive survey exhibition held at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art back in 2000. Having spotted a vacant 4,000 square foot furniture showroom with lots of wall space and track lighting, Liz Moss enlisted former CMCA curator Bruce Brown to help her select photographers for the show. In five weeks, Moss and Brown came up with a contemporary photography show that the Portland Museum of Art would be proud to display.
Maine enjoys a wealth of good photographers. The picturesque natural and social landscapes draw them from all over the world, as do the Maine Media Workshops (formerly Maine Photographic Workshops) in Rockport and the Maine College of Art and Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland. Maine largest city is also home to Aurora Photos, an international photo agency, and to about a dozen catalogue studios.
Among the top draws of A Picture’s Worth are Scott Peterman, co-founder of the Bakery Photographic Collective, Peter Ralston, co-founder of the Island Institute, and Jocelyn Lee, who splits her time between Brooklyn and Maine while teaching at Princeton. Peterman is represented by dazzling large-format color photographs of the New York City skyline and strange barren landscapes from around the world. Ralston shows a trio of his intense portraits of the late painter Andrew Wyeth. And Lee contributes the show’s only nudes, frank, unglamorous images that subvert traditional ideas of beauty.
Among other showstoppers are big, bold natural history prints by Maggie Foskett, Brenton Hamilton, Irvin Serrano, and Mary Woodman. Space does not permit a detailed account of the beauty and range of photographs in the show, but, while a handful of the photographers do not appear to have their own websites, I encourage you to check out those of Ilya Askinazi, Christopher Becker, Jeffery Becton, Trent Bell,Tom Birtwistle, Denise Froehlich, John Kelley, Dirk McDonnell, Rose Marasco, Amy Toensing, Justin Van Soest, and Shoshannah White.
And while I’m at it, allow me to add links to a few other Maine photographers who might easily have been included in A Picture’s Worth — Samantha Appleton (one of the world’s top conflict photographers), Jose Azell (founder of Aurora Photos), John Paul Caponigro (son of the legendary Paul Caponigro), Sara Gray, Tonee Harbert, Sean Alonzo Harris, Tanja Hollander (co-founder with Peterman of the Bakery Photographic Collective), and Brian Vanden Brink.
In this digital age, it’s reassuring to see photographs exhibited as objects of art, but the ontological versatility of the medium is such that photography is just as valid in reproduction in books and magazines and on the Web.