explorations, pt. 1
I was down at the UA yesterday, ostensibly to grade. When I couldn't face reading through another essay, I decided to go a-wandering. (I do this as often as possible, preferably entirely alone and with a good deal of time available.)
After a few wrong turns, I made my way into UA's Center for Creative Photography. If you've never been, it's worth the trip; it's an archive, but they have a rather large museum-quality gallery downstairs and another upstairs, and they're both free.
Right now they have two exhibitions up: "Face to Face: 150 years of Photographic Portraiture," and "Ansel Adams: Arizona and the West."
Overall, I found the Ansel Adams exhibit lackluster, even though I'm generally a fan of his work. My two favorite prints were Aspens, New Mexico (at the top of the post), which seemed to have a ghostly glow about it in person, and Moonrise over Hernandez, New Mexico (below), which was equally eerie. Click on it to see the detail of the crosses, though it's better in the gallery than on your screen.
The "Face to Face" exhibit was much more rewarding for me. I was especially pleased that I recognized several of the photographer's names, if not the images themselves (religiously reading The Year in Pictures has paid off!).
I thought the display was much more well-curated than the Adams one; I liked best that in a few cases, they had paired portraits of the same subject by different artists. They took, for example, three portraits of Alfred Steiglitz, a very influential New York gallery owner, and placed them next to each other with a description of how each shot reflected the relationship of that artist to Steiglitz. (Adams' was the only one I could find on Google; below.)
They're experimenting with putting up placards next to the photos that analyze the image and provide background information. I enjoyed the background, but I found that much of the analysis I disagreed with or found more condescending than insightful. I had, for example, learned much more that was valuable on Diane Arbus' Identical Twins, Cathleen (L) and Collen, Members of a Twin Club in New Jersey (below), from a post on The Year in Pictures (which I cannot seem to find, incidentally, or I would link it here).
The analysis on Edward Weston's Charis, Lake Ediza I found particularly lacking--affected, it seemed, by a certain prudery.
Some of my favorite images I didn't write down or can't find online, so you'll have to go see them yourself. I enjoyed particularly one of a woman's father with a solar eclipse reflected onto his open palms, and a family snapshot from one of the first do-it-yourself Kodak cameras.
I also, on this same excursion, wandered into a store on University called Outside of Ordinary. Unlike most of the overpriced boutiques and chain stores that surround it, this place actually seemed to have some class. They also, uncannily, seemed to stock several things that I had seen online and thought I'd have no chance of finding in Tucson:
Butter London nail lacquers, for which they are the only retailer in Tucson;
Paddywax candles inspired by famous authors;
Modern Alchemy candles, including Ex Libris (smells like old books) and Salem (smells like a huge bonfire); and Commando thongs, which are supposed to be the end-all-be-all of panty-line free dressing (one of my biggest pet peeves). I also finally found a purse, after searching nearly continually since that post I made about it.
They had a ton of other, interesting things, but I'm not going to give them away, since I'm sure I'll be back for gift-purchasing in the future. The shopkeeper was a very polite older gentleman, but I did have to battle my way through at least ten vapid female customers to make my purchase, so go armed against stupidity.