April 14, 2013

In The Arts: Bowdoin gives Kirkeby well-deserved due

By PHILIP ISAACSON

(Continued from page 1)

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“In Flight,” a silver gelatin print by David Brooks Stess.

Courtesy of VoxPhotographs and Portland Museum of Art, © David Brooks Stess

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“Hangers On,” a silver gelatin print by David Brooks Stess.

Courtesy of VoxPhotographs and Portland Museum of Art, © David Brooks Stess

Additional Photos Below

ON VIEW

"PER KIRKEBY:

PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURES"

WHERE: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 9400 College Station, Brunswick. 725-3124; bowdoin.edu/art-museum

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday

CLOSES: July 14 

"BLUEBERRY RAKERS: PHOTOGRAPHS BY

DAVID BROOKS STESS"

WHERE: Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress St. 775-6148; portlandmuseum.org

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday (until 9 p.m. Friday)

CLOSES: May 19 

"TERRAIN VAGUE:

PHOTOGRAPHS BY GARY GREEN," presented by Maine Museum of Photographic Arts

WHERE: University of Southern Maine, Glickman Family Library, 314 Forest Ave., Portland. 780-4270

HOURS: 7:45 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 7:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday

CLOSES: May 31

Unlike some biographers, Stess did not come on the annual blueberry scene and gain such trust over time that he disappeared as an observer. Life, under those circumstances, would carry on as though he was not present.

On the other hand, he joined in that life, and thus the workers' biography is part of his own biography. He is photographing his own life.

That can result in a sense of the workers performing for his camera. They know he's there and, perhaps, give him what they think he's looking for. They respond to his personality. This is not in criticism or complaint; it is intended to point out that two approaches will produce two results.

Stess tells us of a world we can hardly know. Kids hanging off vehicles, traveling on the migrant school bus, doing homework on the back of picking cartons, doing chores and playing a frightening form of tug-of-war. He tells us of hanging out, laundry day, dancing at night by available light and washing up after a day of raking.

It's not a primer on blueberry raking or on the exhaustion of hard work. It's a love story about a willingness of spirit told with a passionate eye. It will captivate you.

Philip Isaacson of Lewiston has been writing about the arts for the Maine Sunday Telegram for 48 years. He can be contacted at:

pmisaacson@isaacsonraymond.com

 

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Additional Photos

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Photograph by Gary Green from “Terrain Vague."

Courtesy of the artist

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Photograph by Gary Green from “Terrain Vague.”

Courtesy of the artist

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“Untitled” by Per Kirkeby, 2009, tempera on canvas.

Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and Berlin

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“Earthquake” by Per Kirkeby, oil on canvas.

Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Gumberg

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Photographer David Brooks Stess raking blueberries.

Ed Beem photo

 


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