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Denver Post article

from the Denver Post, 6/14/2002

Blooms in View at Gallery Sink
Photo exhibit shows old and new media
Kyle MacMillan
Friday, June 14, 2002

PHOTO CAPTION: Doris Mitsch's 'Datura', a Giclee print on Arches cold-press paper with archival inks, is on display at Gallery Sink.

The brilliant colors, voluptuous shapes and heavenly fragrances of flowers have enchanted and inspired artists of all kinds for centuries, and contemporary photographers are certainly no exception.

Imogen Cunningham, for example, built an international reputation on her delectable floral images, and Robert Mapplethorpe is almost as widely known for his works in this realm as he is for his controversial sexual subjects.

Seventy photographs of flowers are squeezed into the compact display space at Gallery Sink in an exhibition that continues owner Mark Sink's penchant for covering as much territory as he possibly can in each of his offerings.

But unlike some of his recent themed shows, such as last year's standout, "Emotional Distance," this one has a less clear-cut and compelling thread tying together the mass of images.

The one connecting link beyond the common subject matter is Sink's simple desire, as he expresses in a short accompanying statement, to show works reflecting a wide assortment of photographic techniques. And in that regard, he certainly has succeeded.

Some of the pieces, such as "Pod Suite No. 30" by Adrienne Veninger of Toronto, Canada, a series of sepia-toned depictions of long, spindly pods that take on figurative qualities, were printed using traditional darkroom methods.

But others break from the ordinary in all kinds of interesting ways, such as two images by Bernice Halpern Cutler of New York City - "Rose" and "Orchid" - that look like a kind of mix of photography and drawing.

They are, in fact, photo transfers. Cutler spreads a layer of gel over an inkjet print, removes the paper from the gel's surface - and a transferred image becomes frozen in the gel as it hardens into a flat, hard rectangle sheet.

Many of the photographers take advantage of new digital-scanning and inkjet technologies, such as Jo Leggett of San Francisco. She has eliminated the camera entirely by placing blooms right on the scanner, producing images with a refined, shimmering elegance.

As might be expected given the subject matter, a sensuousness pervades this show, turning almost explicitly sexual in the vibrantly colorful images of Teri O'Neill of Golden, sporting titles such as "Body Heat" and "So Happy to See You." Using specially designed cameras from the medical world, she manages to get remarkable, up-close shots of pistils and stamens, which have uncanny and unmistakable resemblances to human genitalia.

But some images are much more restrained, such as the four photogravure studies from the 19th century by famed German photographer Karl Blossfeldt, which, though certainly handsome, have a sober, specimen-like quality.

A similarly cool, even scientific appearance could logically be expected of the works of Steven Meyers of Bellingham, Wash., considering he uses X-rays. But these see-through images of flowers have a surprising beauty and grace.

Given that flowers just might offer the most dazzling range of colors of anything on the planet, it would be natural to assume virtually all the photographers featured would employ some version of color imagery.

But in fact, at least half of these images are probably black and white, with the artists focusing on the many other amazing qualities of flowers, such as their tantalizing, tactile qualities.

Nowhere is this facet more tellingly represented than in the soft ripples and folds of the overlapping petals in the black-and-white inkjet prints "Datura H" and "Datura G" by Doris Mitsch of New York City, easily two of the most stunning images in the show.

If most of the photographers stick to some variation on realism, a few break away, such as conceptualist Susan Evans of Daytona Beach, Fla. Borrowing from Ed Ruscha, she "depicts" flowers with words, simply placing, for example, the phrase "field of poppies" in white against a black field.

Bryan Boettiger of Denver photographed a flower from a television screen, using a process that so blurred the image, titled "Free Flowers 1," it has turned into a vivid abstraction of vague circles and curves in bright reds, oranges and yellows.

More than 30 photographers are represented, and to Sink's credit, there is little drop-off in quality anywhere in the mix.




Copyright 2000-2012 Doris Mitsch