|Cattlemen at Auction, Russell Lee, 1940, Silver Gelatin Print|
As you first enter the gallery, there is a large quote from Bill Wittliff that reads as follows:
Mr. Wittliff's words of wisdom is very appropriate starting point in terms of setting up the photographs to follow. Many of the photographs in the gallery such as Paul Rosenthal's Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima (1945) and Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother (1936) capture historical moments while also telling human stories. The works themselves were organized in a very deliberate fashion. The back-left room contains works that all appear to contain subjects from Mexico; one wall in the room displays only children. I did love one of the particular images in this room. The photo was titled Volando Bajo (low flying) (1986) and was taken by Pablo Ortiz Monasterio. The photograph displays a 1980's Mexican punk rocker kicking off of a wall with a Sex Pistols mural painted upon it. The pure ecstasy of the moment captured is a simple, yet beautiful thing to admire."Photography at its most potent can transcend mere reportage and reveal our very souls like a magic mirror: to make us think, to make us feel, and to remind us always that we're all fell travelers on this spinning globe."
|Volando Bajo (low flying), Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, 1986, Silver Gelatin Print|
As I continued to wander the walls, reading the faces staring back at me like books, eager to absorb their stories I decided to stand dead center in the room. With no one else present I proceeded to turn 360 degrees slowly and question my surroundings. It was then that I came to the realization that section of the gallery tells another perspective of the same story. From the bugs & plants, cowboys & cowgirls, Native Americans & Mexicans; The Dazzling Instant is the Southwest narrative. The gallery becomes just as much a history lesson as it is an art exhibition.
|Tom Waits, Michael O'Brien, 2006, Silver Gelatin Print|
Before leaving I stopped and sat down in front of my personal favorite print one last time. It is Tom Waits (2006) by Michael O'Brien. Admittedly I am a huge Tom Waits fan and therefore obviously biased, but I love the small glimpse of comedy in an otherwise serious exhibit. Waits is in the middle of the California desert in his suit and bowler hat with some sort of megaphone device strapped to his back and a grin the size of the horizon on his face. The kicked up dust and his body indicate a struggle, but its as if his face is embracing the struggle wholeheartedly. I put my headphones in and listened to "Anywhere I Lay My Head" as I trotted the gallery one more time and couldn't help but see both the appropriateness and the irony; but that's life. Then I left, but I'll probably be back soon.