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Gallery Picks of the Show

A Sense of Place

by Joel Krenis and Don Menges

with Jim Dusen in the East Gallery

Peter Marr picked his favorite photos of the show from the Portfolios
and also describes the strength of the images he has chosen.


All images copyright by the individual photographers


Chilkat River Valley by Archie Curry

Chilkat River Valley
by Archie Curry

The artist has embodied a mystical atmospheric drama into many of his powerful landscapes, exemplified by low light and fog enshrouded scenes. In particular, I really admire Mystical Fog and Fall Colors, which is an enchanting print. I chose the Chilkat Valley photograph as one of my “picks”, for not only does it embrace all of the above qualities, it has a scale and presence that truly captures the magnificence, grandeur, and remoteness of this area of Alaska. The long rectangular format emphasizes the vastness of this stark, but entrancing region. What is particularly captivating is that the photographer has impressively captured the moment when the fog and low clouds have opened up, to show us the surreal appearance of the snow-capped mountains, which are also dramatically reflected in the foreground water. The leafless trees and limited vegetation are further evidence that this is almost certainly a sparsely populated area, one whose summers are short-lived, and one where the climate is relatively forbidding most of the year. It has been said that scenery without wildlife is just scenery. Not so here, for the crowning glory of this lovely, bleak landscape, is the existence of a large number of American Bald Eagles, lined up like sentinels on the river bank, patiently awaiting the salmon and other fish to swim towards them. These magnificent birds bring a noble and awe-inspiring presence to this remote area, reminding us once again, how nature can survive and thrive in seemingly inhospitable places. This imposing landscape image captures the true essence and majesty of this part of the Alaskan peninsula.


Cactus Garden by Jim Dusen 

Cactus Garden
by Jim Dusen

The author has creatively used infra-red photography in presenting us magical landscapes that burst forth with both power and delicateness. His excellent prints are true revelations, and they all take on a new dimension and fascination for the viewer to explore and enjoy.

I was particularly intrigued and taken by the Cactus Garden, in which the power and majesty of the dominant tree, acts as a superb foil to the cacti plants, the latter being so beautifully captured and delineated by the infra-red process. The tree, with its menacing, intertwined arms, seems at first to be out of place in this sea of cacti plants, although it is very evident that its delicately structured leaves, both shade and allow plentiful sunlight to nurture the unique flora. The photograph as it stands is both impressive and charming, but what is especially intriguing to me, is that this exotic garden can have a decidedly humorous aspect. One can imagine the tree as the conductor of a virtuoso orchestra, with multiple batons of branches swaying with the music, to exhort the cacti to gyrate and move in synchronous harmony. The latter they do not do, for the large prickly plants in the foreground fall flat, or twist and turn in every type of orientation. Smaller cacti pop up rigidly like popsicles on a stick, whilst older, more fleshy-leaved giants keep their distance. I use this hopefully humorous analogy, to illustrate here how the photographic technique used so successfully here, allows one to both see and explore nature in a different, exciting way. The infra-red has taken us into a magical kingdom, enabling us to explore our own fantasies in an enchanting and exhilarating fashion.

Medici Chapel by Joel Krenis

Medici Chapel
by Joel Krenis

In his outstanding exhibition, the author takes us on a magical tour, to give us not only memorable images from Italy and Eastern European countries, but also fascinating prints from closer to home, principally from New York State. In studying Joel’s elegant and masterful prints, I was immediately reminded of two well known quotations that seemed so appropriate to his images. Firstly, Robert Frost said “I took the road less traveled by, and that has made the difference,” and secondly, Ansel Adams so marvelously stated, “Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”

The astonishing and electrifying print, Medici Chapel, is a superb example that illustrates these two quotations admirably. Taken in the province of Abruzzo in Italy, this remarkable image would certainly seem to indicate that the area is off the beaten track. This historic and seemingly well preserved Romanesque chapel appears isolated on a rocky outcrop, surrounded by desolate rolling hills and distant mountains. The sparse vegetation and foreboding terrain are indicative of a fairly harsh environment. Immediately one can question why such a splendid edifice was built in such a remote area. Perhaps it was situated there just for the use of the privileged aristocracy? or possibly it was a Mecca-like religious retreat for hardy pilgrims to faithfully visit? Apart from the historical and architectural significance of this lovely chapel, one must certainly complement the author for taking this breathtaking image that certainly fits Ansel’s quotation. The chapel is right in the center of the frame, where it deserves to be, and every vector from the dramatic foreground, and the vivid, impressive sky, projects onto this outstanding structure. The distant hills and valleys complement the centerpiece superbly. Even the cross on the cupola stands out against the lightest part of the impressive cloud formations. One cannot imagine any better print of this lovely chapel, a great tribute to the masterful skills and artistry of the photographer.

Chase Walkway by Don Menges


Chase Walkway
by Don Menges

Don has not confined his considerable talents to just making interior works of art, so we are fortunate that he has included in this exhibition, several exterior scenes, two of my favorites being, Blue Caboose, and the Rochester Public Market. I decided, however, to comment further on Chase Walkway, one of two outstanding images centered around the Chase building, both of which amply display Don’s outstanding photographic and artistic prowess. The walkway is an architectural gem, a superb image that has a marvelous rhythm of surfaces, lines, curves and values, blending effortlessly into an organic coordination of visual elements. The stellar print has powerful, curved vertical elements that reach effortlessly upwards from an intersecting serpentine walkway. The latter bends and flows dexterously into and out of the frame, displaying both massiveness and architectural grandeur. Some of the walkway’s glass panels elegantly reflect surrounding structures, whilst the almost monochromatic color harmonizes impressively with all of the design features. This striking print, creatively and expressively, illustrates the author’s unique ability to transform what to some is an ordinary image into an extraordinary one. One final note, there is the promise of mystery in this print, which the viewer might like to pursue. One might ask what are we really looking at? What are those long curved assemblages of rectangular blocks? , how high do they go? , etc. Maybe we are looking at a detail of an alien spaceship. I always try, when I comment on one of my “picks”, to introduce an element of mystery, so that some viewers can exercise other neural pathways for extra enjoyment. Great photographic art like this-image, can also elicit great food for the imagination.


Aegean Trees by Joel Krenis

Aegean Trees
by Joel Krenis

It has been said that the more one looks, the more one sees, and the more one sees, the better one knows where to look. Illustrative of this statement is Joel’s exquisite print of Aegean trees, taken somewhere in Turkey. Here, clinging for life on a rock-strewn escarpment of a deep-walled canyon, these impressive trees proudly thrust their elegant needle clusters, outwards and upwards, in order to intercept every last ray of life-giving sunlight. The sparse, poor soil, has forced the tree roots to seek moisture, nutrients and minerals from within the rocks. You know that the root systems have to also penetrate deeply into the rocks and sub-soil, giving as firm a foundation as possible to support tree growth. Wildness is a necessity, an essential part of ourselves, and Joel has beautifully captured the exalted inspiration and restorative drama in the fight for survival in this remote canyon. The twisted trunks and branches of these extraordinary trees, wonderfully illustrate nature’s struggles and triumphs. Many lower branches have died from the lack of nutrients and sunlight, but how resplendent are the sheaths of needles, proudly displayed against the gorgeous lighting, a triumphant scene that Joel has majestically captured. The background walls of the canyon and the distant evergreens blend effortlessly, giving all of the glory and majesty to the magnificent trees in the foreground. The lovely lighting highlights every detail of the needle clusters, together with the fascinating contorted shapes of the tree limbs. This is an exemplary example of the untouchability of nature for its matchless and unrivaled beauty. Joel has given us an aesthetic, resplendent


Edibles Dining Room by Don Menges

Edibles Dining Room
by Don Menges

As Elliott Erwitt so eloquently stated, “You have to devote yourself totally to be successful at it,” and over the last two years or so, Don has honed his considerable photographic prowess and digital skills to an unsurpassed level of excellence. For most people who have a great interest in photography and art, it would be commonplace for them to identify a landscape by Ansel Adams, a decisive moment print by Cartier Bresson, a Van Gogh or Picasso painting, etc. Now, particularly in this Gallery, one can instantly recognize and admire a masterpiece by Don Menges. His sumptuous interior prints of homes, mansions, churches and local cafes and restaurants are extraordinarily rich in detail and color. Furthermore, this Menges quality is readily identifiable in his outdoor pictures. Edibles Dining Room is an outstanding example of Don’s work, and for the restaurant owner, a veritable advertising tour de force. There is nothing ornate in this establishment, which features a long brick wall, wooden paneling and floorboards, a patterned-stamped ceiling, and a glass window entrance overlooking a street. The suspended lights are prosaic, and the only added attractions are photographic prints, hung on long hangers. Imposingly, Don has magically transformed the dining room into a warm, inviting, elegant eatery, that even the most sophisticated of clientele would be delighted to secure a table in. The rich brick wall becomes an elegant mosaic, the floorboards, a mahogany classic, the ceiling, an artistic painting. All this, with the lovely, simple table settings, certainly reflect that the food served here is of the highest caliber. The author has even captured the outside street details and grove of trees to perfection. Truly, a Menges masterpiece par excellence.

Image City Photography Gallery  ♦   722 University Avenue  ♦    Rochester, NY 14607 ♦ 585.271.2540
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