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April 4, 2010

THAT '70S SHOW

A new photography exhibition offers a look back at a very different Portland

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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“Seeing Portland” focuses on the work of photographers from the 1970s and early ’80s, including “Splendid Restaurant, Congress Street, Portland, 8/20/76” by Todd Webb. The show opens Saturday at Zero Station in Portland.

Courtesy photo

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"Munjoy South Girls" by Andy Graham, 1975

Courtesy photo

Additional Photos Below

On the web

IF YOU GO

"SEEING PORTLAND – 1970 TO 1984," a group photography exhibition featuring the work of Tom Brennan, C.C. Church, Andy Graham, Rose Marasco, Joe Muir, Mark Rockwood, Jeff Stevensen, Jay York and Todd Webb

WHERE: Zero Station, 222 Anderson St., Portland

WHEN: Opens with a reception 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday and continues through May 1

REGULAR HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

INFORMATION: 347-7000; www.zerostation.com

Graham was astounded with the amount of material that he found.

For the most part, the photographers with work in this show were fresh out of school. They had abundant enthusiasm, endless energy and a commitment to photography that in hindsight has proven both laudatory and historic. Collectively, their photographs capture the city's architecture, its people and its pulse.

'UNDISCOVERED TREASURE'

Graham characterized Church as "the undiscovered treasure of Portland. He deserves an entire show. In the same way that other great artists of Maine are being discovered, Chris needs to be rediscovered and assessed as an important person in the art world. One of my hopes for this show is that Chris will get the recognition he deserves as an extraordinary photographer."

Church was 26 years old in 1970 when he moved into a studio on Monument Square.

"Portland was my inspiration. Portland was my subject," he said in a phone interview. "When I went out and about, I was doing mostly buildings around the area on the peninsula. If I went farther afield, I did landscapes.

"But in the city, I found old buildings and things that caught my eye. From my perspective, they were very beautiful. I wanted to record them. I wasn't necessarily documenting the city. But after 40 years, they become a document of sorts. But I was more interested in creating art."

He still is. Church is doing pretty much the same thing today. Back then, he used a 4-by-5 viewfinder. He still does, but he has followed the evolution of photography from film to digital.

Stevensen, a Portland photographer, focused his camera on the old waterfront of the early 1980s. He used an 8-by-10 view camera, which lends itself to a rigorous approach to composition.

"My approach to this subject matter was documentary and more, to infuse my personal vision into the project," he writes in his statement. "The choice of where to point my camera conformed to no purely historical hierarchy. I photographed that which struck my eye, and assumed that the totality of my photographs would convey the larger truth of the subject."

Marasco moved to Pine Street in the West End in 1979. She has moved since – but only about a block away. That neighborhood has been home for a long time, but back then, everything was new. Her photographs offer the perspective of a newcomer who is delighted with her surroundings.

"When I wasn't teaching, I walked the street photographing – first on the Western Prom, and then into the West End neighborhoods. I came home to my makeshift dark room and went to work," she writes.

In the darkroom, Marasco joined two photos into one, creating a montage. Several examples of her experiments are in this show, including one that combines both the Western and Eastern proms.

In 1982, she wrote of her work, "The perception of reality is more about what one brings to it than what is there. The making of photographs is more about what one takes from it than what is there."

Today, Marasco is still struck by the notion of perception and the way memory is linked and informs our perceptions. Although she has matured as a photographer over the years, the themes that she began exploring all those years ago are present today.

As he was curating this show, Graham said he remembered a phrase, "the old weird America," made famous by the critic Greil Marcus.

These images, he said, remind him of "the old weird Portland, when Portland was eccentric. This show is about those remnants. My hope is that the photographers who are working now will look at the city with the same warmth and exacting vision that these photographers employed in the 1970s."

 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

bkeyes@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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"Photo Montage #7" by Rose Marasco, 1981-82.

Courtesy photo

Warehouse, Inc. with Plas, 10/1982
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Jeff Stevensen’s “Warehouse Inc.,” 1982

Courtesy photo

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Joe Muir’s panoramic “Congress Street Side of the Hay Building,” 1978

Courtesy photo

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"Shack" by C.C. Church, 1977

Courtesy photo

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Tom Brennan’s “Lower Congress,” 1978

Courtesy photo

 


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