(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – Beauty In Decay, a group show of photography and a solo show of sculpture by Gordon Chandler, opens at Ferrin Gallery on Saturday, July 30, with a reception from 4 to 6. The two exhibitions with the same title explore themes of beauty drawn from decaying surfaces, objects and structures. The photography presents selected works by six photographers who use decay in photographs of architecture, urban landscapes and material objects through documentation, abstraction — and in the case of Gregory Crewdson, staged surrealism.
Featured in the photography show is a small selection of production stills from Crewdson’s Beneath the Roses series that provide behind-the-scenes photographic documentation of his process during location shoots made between 2005 and 2007 in Adams, North Adams and Pittsfield, Mass. In contrast to the documentary style of the other photographers, Crewdson creates staged scenes that typically include a cast of characters. Some of the images directly allude to well known paintings by Edward Hopper and other American Realists, while others appear to be movie stills from contemporary film noir.
A leader in the international contemporary art world and distinguished professor at Yale University, Crewdson has influenced a generation of photographers with his dark but romantic use of decaying settings and characters portraying ambiguous relationships. Having lived and worked in the area, Crewdson is a familiar presence and favorite of the Berkshires, with works both produced and exhibited at MASS MoCA and in the permanent collections of the Berkshire Museum and Williams College Museum of Art. The works at Ferrin Gallery are exhibited courtesy the Gagosian Gallery of New York.
Straightforward documentary work is the approach taken by the other photographers: still lifes of rusty enamelware by Raymon Elozua, New York, N.Y.; architectural elements drawn from the renovated row houses and gilded age theaters in the Berkshires by Nicholas Whitman, of Williamstown, Mass.; and random scenes from middle America from Michael Eastman’s Vanishing America series and his series from Cuba from 2010. Douglass Truth, formerly of Pittsfield and now living in Grass Valley, Calif., uses an iPhone app to capture street scenes in Pittsfield. While documentary in nature, the process used by Susan Mikula, of West Cummington, Mass., provides an abstracted view of the now disappearing GE buildings photographed with expired Polaroid film, scanned and printed large scale.
In his fourth solo exhibition at Ferrin Gallery, Gordon Chandler installs a trophy room collection of antler-bearing animal heads made from reclaimed metal parts. While hunting for steel in junkyards and recycling stations, his eye is drawn to the shapes and surfaces of the parts
he reclaims. His use of color is drawn from abraded paint surfaces including the signature green of John Deere farm machinery, reflective surfaces of road signs and license plates. Another series of deer head silhouettes are cut from rusty sheet metal showing the shapes and patterns that form during decay.
On Sunday, July 31, at 11 am, Gordon Chandler, sculptor, and Ute Stebich, curator, discuss new work in Beauty in Decay and Chandler’s trophy room installation. Light refreshments served.
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