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April 19, 2004

Signs, Places, and Distressed Polaroids: Looking Back At One Group Show

Group exhibitions of artists can be exhilarating and exasperating simulataneously. It's worthwhile to group the work of multiple artists around an open-ended theme, and see the work of well-known and unknown artists in a different light. Sometimes, a group show is used by a museum or gallery to recycle interest in their permanent collection or representative artists' work in an expedient manner -- though being the optimist that I am, I find even commercial expediency can produce pleasant surprises. The exposure for (relatively) lesser-known artists can be especially valuable for artist and viewer.

I randomly came across an online archive for the group show Inside/Out (held nearly two years ago at the June Bateman Gallery), and there are an impressive variety of contributions. I don't know how well the dots connect to the broad theme in hindsight, even with the extended essay -- it's difficult to judge outside the gallery, and there are many styles, maybe too many, represented in this show. The reward, then, is in seeing work from specific lesser-known photographers that caught my eye. A great start is Charlie Bidwell's spare and square images of signs and obvious landmarks (I'm actually starting to do some vintage sign photography myself), and Bidwell has one of my favorite artist's statements:

"I hate artist's statements. I use a lot of negative space in the work, it's up to the viewer to decide what it all means, if any meaning exists at all."


Charlie Bidwell image

I also liked Petra Ruzickova's impressionistic series on her hometown of Prague (a welcome antidote to the tourist trap image it's become known for in recent years). Artists with a more limited presence that also contribute some interesting images include Seth Taras and especially Philip Buehler's asylum images.


Ruzickova image, from Prague series


Seth Taras image

Finally, Gail Thacker from this exhibition deserves her own spotlight for her distressed Polaroid work, which I've seen before and still enjoy today. This kind of Polaroid work is hardly unique, but her work has always seemed to me just a bit fresher than most other similar attempts...and for such rough-seeming work, she uses the technique of printing B&W polaroid negs (specifically 665 film) onto color paper with real facility to produce interesting results, whether it's landscapes, still lifes, or portraits.


Gail Thacker image

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I am a fan of Gail Thacker's Polaroid work. What is she up to?

Posted by: Robert at Aug 10, 2004 6:12:14 PM

Thacker was indeed one of the first to expand the use of polaroids and in my opinion is still the best!

Posted by: db at Oct 2, 2004 6:28:18 PM

congrats of all of the hard work... your work is stimulating!

Posted by: belinda and dave at Oct 30, 2004 10:58:50 PM