"Rarefied Light" now appearing at Gary Freeburg Gallery, KPC

Posted: Thursday, January 20, 2011

Visitors to the Gary Freeburg Gallery at Kenai Peninsula College this month will enter a room packed with photos. Some images might be familiar Alaska scenes, while others were obviously taken outside the state. Every image is the creation of an Alaska photographer -- and many are the work of Peninsula photographers.

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Photo By Molly Dischner
Photo By Molly Dischner
Rarified Light 2010 is on display at Kenai Peninsula College in the Gary L. Freeburg gallery until Feb. 4.

The photos are part of the traveling exhibit Rarefied Light 2010, which is sponsored by the Alaska Photographic Center and juried by Keith Carter. The annual exhibit is hosted at the Freeburg Gallery each year. And it has been since the gallery's namesake was at the college, said KPC's Celia Anderson.

The exhibit includes 52 photos, and each of the walls in the small gallery are covered in framed images of people and places on the Peninsula, around Alaska, and Outside, including some that are digitally crafted to combine multiple photos into one piece of art.

Anderson said the gallery is small, but the college usually receives compliments for their presentation.

"It's an intimate space with good lighting," Anderson said.

If there's one unifying theme in all the images, it's the wide-range of lighting, subject, setting, and composition.

Carter discussed that purposeful diversity in his juror's statement.

"...my tastes are broad and eclectic," he wrote, concluding at the end that "Only photography can make the world factual, poetic, voyeuristic and participatory all at once."

The show reflects both the juror's tastes and what is entered, Anderson said.

"Each year it has a different flavor and a different personality," she said.

The show includes nine works by local photographers, which represent the full spectrum of the show. That's more local artists than in the past, Anderson said.

Locally-produced works range from a blue moon on the Peninsula by Wade Wahrenbrock and balconies in Waikiki by Joseph Kashi to Rick Cupp's "Photoshoppian Man."

"Photoshoppian Man" is one of many digitally-enhanced images in the show. Anderson said there are more digitally-enhanced works in the show this year than in the past.

Cupp's work is a composite of images of a photographer fashioned similar to Leonardo DaVinci's "Vitruvian Man". The photographer stands on a computer in one image. Screen shots of the photographer with a camera at his eye replace the man's head. And the background is the same yellowed-paper shade associated with DaVinci's work. The piece was purchased by the Anchorage Museum, and will return there when the exhibit is disbanded, Cupp said.

Cupp wasn't the only artist to digitally create his image. Hanging above his work is one by Richard J. Murphy, which is a study of blackbirds. The piece "Thirteen Blackbirds" shows four images of a balcony where an artist is painting blackbirds and a fifth small out-take of the birds, set on a larger image of birds near the edge of the water.

And across the room, Maggie Skiba's "Prodigal Daughter" adds a small studio family portrait to a full-size image of a child at play. That piece won "Best in Show."

The placement of the photos throughout the room is purposeful.

The credit for hanging the show goes to Anderson, who is an associate professor of art at the school.

Anderson said that hanging the show each year is a challenge. She strives to compliment each photo themeatically and athestically, flanking a column of black-and-white photos with columns of color images on both sides.

Ultimately, she wants "each photo to have its own place and express itself on the wall," she said.

Side by side, "The Pillar" and "Pipe" both feature side-lit objects, but with wholly different lighting. In Jules Tileston's black and white "The Pillar," the rock feature is the only element lit, and stands out from an otherwise dark background. In "Pipe," by Glenn Aronwits, the sun strikes just behind the pipe creating a fragment of golden touched grass and a sliver of light on the pipe, but the whole image is still colorful and well-lit.

Those aren't the only images that explore the show's title "Rarefied Light."

"Everything" by local photographer Zirrius Van Devere features an eight-pointed star made of folded paper, with light flooding through the window and the paper construction.

In "Fire Eyes" by Ward Hulbert, the whites of children's eyes glow in a mostly-dark photograph. That photo sits beneath a black and white image of just one child.

And in local photographer Tracie Howard's black and white print of a wheel at the curb, the photo changes depending on where the viewer stands, as lighting in the gallery mixes with shadows in "Curb Appeal."

Anderson said that while hanging the show is always a time-consuming project, it was actually easier this winter than it has been some years.

"Sometimes, the show has been an absolute nightmare to hang," she said. That's usually when the show features a wide-range of mixed media photos and alternative printing surfaces. Those have meant that she's found herself hanging underwear on a clothesline, a quilt and other fabric items. This year, the selected entries are all printed on some type of paper.

The show opened in Anchorage in September, and spent December in Fairbanks before traveling to the central peninsula this month. It runs through Feb. 4 at KPC, and then moves to Kodiak and Juneau. It changes at each venue, as the arrangement and space for the photos depends on the locale.

Molly Dischner can be reached at molly.dischner@peninsulaclarion.com

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