by Karen Braun Malpas
As a city, Alameda can provide just about anything you may be looking for gritty or serene, tough or tender. It is all on view here, in the Alameda On Camera event which the Frank Bette Center holds every year.
Artists randomly drew 1/48th of the map of Alameda and had 48 hrs. in which to
photograph it followed by a month in which to create something interesting from
their documentation. Creativity is encouraged as It is a photo-based show.
Artists on the island are immediately struck by her specialties: bridges, harbors, boats, sunsets and the giant loading cranes across the estuary. But if they stop and hover, we see they may be visited by the smaller wonders of cats, crows, turkeys, waterbirds, hawks, seagulls and squirrels. Waiting modestly to be noticed are details such as Joanne Clapp Fullagar’s Used to be Blue showing years of peeling multicolored paint on a fire hydrant. Gregory Pease also found worthy design in signage and hardware.
Stunning geometry, pure design were ably demonstrated in the work of Nick Winkworth, Neil Geller, Jill Marie Gorman, Gregory Pease, Chris Adamson, Jeff Cullen, Jim Dupont, and Ellen Rosenthal. The purity of verticals, horizontals and diagonals are everywhere but these were singled out, framed and celebrated by artists eyes.
The gigantic cranes on the Oakland side of the estuary which stare over toward NAS have been likened to Trojan Horses or dinosaurs. but they have never been portrayed in such a gentle and poetic light as Brandon Meins does (Sunset Return Commute 1.0 and 2.0). In the soft light, the cranes almost seem to rise up from a mystical land, far far away.
While Alameda enjoys ample sunshine, it was the exotic light of dawn, dusk and sunset that piqued a response from Michael Prouting (Leaving Alameda at Dawn), Bonnie Blake-Drucker, Barbara James, Donna O’Kane, Pablo Ramirez and Emilie Watten.
There are some photos of trees that make you glad you share a planet with them. A few are The Enlightened Tree by Jill Marie Gorman, Jim Dupont’s Spooky trees, illuminated in such a way that they evoke a stage set. Susan Hillyard’s Nighttime on the Lagoon altered to look like a precious little watercolor. Some artists photographed through the mesh of wire fences to the city, rocks or buildings we were barred from encountering directly.
Michael Dawson photographed a laundromat at night, Washboard but, egads, it echoed Edward Hoppers painting called Nighthawks without the figures leaning on the counter. It conveyed the same feeling of being on the outside but looking into, for example, the world of a sugar easter egg or a display case. Nearby hangs the tall thin photo by Nick Winkworth, Alameda Starry Night showing a conventional house in a conventional neighborhood with a wreath on its door celebrating whatever but above it rises the infinite depth of the firmament dotted barely perceptibly by pin points of stars which reign silently even after our small conventional lives below have passed.
There is so much to see here. It will ring many aesthetic bells for the community.