I get out of work early so I can get to the gallery early enough to take a good look and skedaddle early enough to get to my daughters recital thingy at school. But of course I get held up at the office twenty minutes past the hour and end up arriving half an hour later than the scheduled start of the opening. Space isn’t that big, so there is a crowd and the last artist is already speaking.
I am pretty sure I have seen all of the artists’ work before, but I can’t recall any of Adam Schreiber’s previous art. Mike Osborne and David Woody have displayed work in some MFA shows at CRL and Mr. Osborne was included in the 22 to Watch. It would be very easy for me to discuss his work as I thoroughly enjoy looking at his photography. Instead I will first explore the other members of this trio.
David Woody is represented by two portraits? They don’t really have much in common with the burning car in the HEB parking lot that he showed in the FEVER show at the CRL. The only thing I see in common is the directness of his subjects onto the viewer. There was no escaping the flames of that burning car, they were mesmerizing. The same sort of attitude is given from this pair of photos. In Plano, Texas #3 this kid sitting on a dirtbike with one foot on the pedal and both hands on the handlebars, seems ready to take off or maybe he has just stopped to gawk at us. Because of his helmet and his coat, his hands and eyes are the only skin we can see. And it is clear that he is looking directly at the camera. This intense gaze is also present in Plano, Texas #7. The ninja-like figure stands in front of a freshly painted wall and looks at us. What playa’? Wha’? Unlike the kid on the bike, this photo suggests something more than just a snapshot portrait. The painter stands in front of his most recent labor and is poised to continue his work, but has stopped to answer the questioning gaze of the audience. His answer to our question is evident in his eyes. He’s busy right now, come back later.
Adam Schreiber also has two photos in this exhibit. One looks like an executive portrait and the other is a view of a dust covered control panel. Mr. Schreiber acts as the glue of the show as his work relates more to the other two artists than they do to each other. The portrait doesn’t really share the intense gaze that Mr. Woody’s present, but there is this directness of the light. What I mean is that the lighting is making everything jump forward. As you view each object, it appears to be placed on the uppermost level. But when you look at the element next to it, that looks like it is the uppermost level. The same effect goes for the control panel of MULTEK, IBM. The dust is clearly visible on the surface of the panel. Each element is activated and demands attention in the same way that Mr. Woody’s figures demand attention with their intense gazes. The lighting in Mr. Schreiber’s work pushes everything in our face.
Lighting is also the biggest actor in Mike Osborne’s photos. Having four photos makes the show feel more like “Mike Osborne & friends” instead of “Three Photographers”. But that’s okay, ’cause I like them. The interesting nighttime glow that Mr. Osborne has captured is what draws me into them. Combined with the construction landscape they look sci-fi while looking computer generated, but also have a sacred aura to them. With the night sky in the background and smoothly reflected objects as the main characters, it is difficult not to think of the Prequel Trilogy. I associate the dark sky with that of outerspace and the luminous concrete and steel remind me of computer generated spaceships and cityscapes. If you have ever used Maya or Lightwave 3D or any other modeling program, you should be familiar with the quick rendering mode that these photos mimic. There is a “global lighting” that illuminates everything except the sky. As it doesn’t seem to affect the background, the light emanates from within. I think that is where the spirituality can be seen. The stillness of night allows for reflection and the universal lighting reveals all aspects of the scene. Ooohhhhmmmmmm.
In the catalogue, curator Caitlin Haskell talks about the defamiliarization that the three artists reveal. Maybe I’m not getting it, but I think the opposite is happening. Mr. Woody’s subjects are strangers, but what stranger can you infinitely stare down? When are you ever given everything all at once as in Mr. Schreiber’s photos? And when was the last time you have witnessed the nocturnal lives of our stoic cityscapes? I thought these artists were giving us a chance to become better connected to our surroundings. Maybe the glass is half full, or maybe I just need another drink. I can kinda see the relationship between the three artists, but I think Mr. Schreiber was not as strong a link as Ms. Haskell would have liked. Nevertheless, this show is GOOD.
I’ll tell you ’bout what I sees.