Every day Amy Grant walks through downtown Wilmington—where her gallery, Art in Bloom, is located. Daily she is privy to a different perspective of all the cracks, crevices and nuances of our cobblestone roads, historic brick buildings and riverfront view. Thanks to fine-art photographer Dave Klinger’s black and white images, now on display in “Art of the Camera” at Platypus & Gnome—as part of Art in Bloom’s outreach art series, “Art of Fine Dining”—normal objects like park benches or stairways and arch ways, even downtown parking decks, hide snippets of beauty.
“Dave captures the scene with light and shadow,” Grant tells. “[His] photographs capture the buildings and people I pass going back and forth to work but in a completely different light. Like other fine art, the photographs bring new awareness to the viewer.”
Grant’s goal as a gallery owner and avid art lover, who hosts a bevy of shows annually featuring all media, is to illuminate such beauty. In July her gallery hosted the “Art of the Camera” exhibit first—and to such success Grant extended it onto the walls of Front Street’s Platypus & Gnome. She invited more than 18 artists, including Klinger, who has two pieces featured: a digital 10-inch-by-10-inch print, “Church Spires,” and a 35mm, infrared, 8-inch-by-12-inch “Greenfield Cypress.”
Self-taught, Klinger finds the art to be exciting and challenging. He even crafted his own “primitive cameras,” as he calls them, to understand the root of image making before exploring digital photography once the medium became more widespread. Today he uses both old and new, analog and digital, to create balance.
“Photography itself is a great teacher for allowing you to try different approaches and then so directly seeing the results in the images,” he says. “There’s just enough resistance and versatility in the medium to push up against my creative laziness and egg me on: Can I pull out a bit of content? Is it an accurately captured face or architectural touch, or have I actually helped expose a mood or story that has been laying partially hidden. At this point the viewer plays a key role in verifying those images expressing something worthwhile, and so completes the artistic endeavor.”
“Art of the Camera” is a group exhibit, celebrating experiences, techniques and artistic vision of amateur and professional artists alike. The photographs showcase the real and abstract, in black and white and vivid colors, through light and shadow. The end goal: Each image tells its own story.
“Think about it [like] a collection of short stories by great writers,” Grant offers. “Different stories with writing that draws in readers.”
Charles Kernan’s digital photo, “Three Random Blue Doors” (12 inches by 14 inches), takes viewers to the side streets of Mexico, Guanajuato to be exact. “Quirky colorful places where you can really feel that people live and work there versus the large-scale public plazas and buildings that are equally colorful, but where people are almost incidental,” he explains. “There is great color here with the blue doors and quirkiness with three doors that just do not match—they are all different!”
Also self-taught, Kernan’s first foray into the medium started with his father’s Argus C3. He appreciated early on how difficult photography could be—to capture something as an exact replica from how the mind’s eye processes it. “It is always a struggle to take my vision and get it finally on paper,” he admits.
Frank Fierstein’s journey with photography is soul-filling. He appreciates how it reflects his own experiences and connects him and viewers to basic emotions. “Seeing part of your soul, in a print, helps understand who you are better than any therapist’s couch or drug,” he muses.
His piece, “Musical Keys,” showcases heavy shadows of a wrought-iron fence in a courtyard, which was taken in an historic town in Maryland, as the sun peeked through the sky. “Shadows from the fence and cement structures blanketed the city hall’s courtyard like the keys of a piano,” he explains. “I actually felt like I could hear music playing at that moment.”
Ten minutes later, he put down the lens, as the sun disappeared and masqued the image. “It felt like a door had briefly opened, allowing me to capture this image and then it closed,” he shares.
“Afterward, I sat exhausted for an hour just thinking about what had happened. What a rush!”
He created “Musical Keys” with silver gelatin featuring selenium tones in a wet darkroom. A photojournalist for several years, Fierstein’s introduction into darkroom photography in high school is what he found himself most drawn to within the medium. “It fits well with my acute visual and technical ability,” he says. “I still use film cameras and process all the film and prints by hand, one by one, in a traditional wet darkroom. To me, there is still nothing more beautiful than a selenium-toned, silver-gelatin print.”
Other artists in the show include Gary Allen, Ralph Colelli, Joe DiBartolo, Susan Francy, William Fridrich, Leigh Gill, Harold Hodges, Kate LeCates, Barbara Michael, Jessica Novak, Daniel Rogers, Arrow Ross, Barbara Snyder, Rachel Thompson, and (Joe) P. Wiegmann, among others. “Art of the Camera” will be on display at Platypus & Gnome through February 4, 2019.
As part of the ongoing #OverFlo fundraising efforts, Art in Bloom will host a raffle with proceeds benefiting the emergency food pantry of Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. Tickets are $1 and may be purchased during business hours and on Fourth Friday Gallery Night. The drawing will be held on October 26 at 7:30 p.m. The person who wins the raffle will receive his or her choice of any one work of art in the gallery (do not need to be present to win).