Jane Deering Gallery
True Blue, and Black | Alternative Photography : Tom Fels & Gail Pine
Opening September 17 and on view through October 23 . 2016


Cyanotype — the distinctly- and lusciously- blue photograph invented in the early 19th-century by Sir John Herschel (British) — was long-favored by engineers to produce copies of drawings, which we commonly know as blueprints. The cyanotype process is a simple one. Two chemicals are combined to produce an iron-salt solution; paper is then treated with this solution. Once exposed to natural light an image is formed on the paper. A water bath followed by drying completes the process and fixes the image. That’s it. In the hands of the artist, however, the process renders sophisticated photographs. Artists Tom Fels (Vermont) and Gail Pine (California) have experimented with the process and their results are testimony to the beauty and subtle delicacy arising from cyanotype’s simplicity. On view in this exhibition are their creations. Tom Fels works large. His splendid diptychs and triptychs of catalpa and chestnut trees are alive with the delicacy of a breeze blowing through mature branches. Recently, Fels’s work was shown in London and Paris and was a highlight of the Contemporary Photography Sale at Christie’s, London. Gail Pine, by contrast, is the master of the tiny image, some only 1.5 x 1.5-inches. The breadth of her work embraces the culture of mid-century America. Her collaborative typology work is in the permanent collection of the Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Also included in this exhibition is a limited selection of Pine’s Black Pictures. The artist has a vast archive of vintage black & white snapshots, which she draws upon for this work. They are used as paper negatives to contact print the finished pieces. The resulting gelatin silver prints are the reverse of the original snapshots; i.e. everything originally white is now black; and everything once black is now white — an abstract concept hard for the mind to keep straight. Pine has worked for years with this process and her skill shows. The Black Pictures are small; the viewer must peer in close to decipher the image. An effort that is ultra-rewarding.

Tom Fels is an independent curator and writer specializing in American culture, photography and art. Fels is the author of numerous other catalogs and articles. O Say Can You See: American Photographs 1839-1939 was published by MIT Press in 1989, and Watkins to Weston: 101 Years of California Photography, 1849-1950 by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 1992. He has given public lectures at the Boston Athenaeum, the Addison Gallery, in Andover, Massachusetts, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fels has written regularly for the Print Collectors Newsletter and On Paper magazine. He is a contributor to the volume on Carleton Watkins in the Getty Museum’s In Focus series. Since 2013 Fels has been showing his own recent art in galleries and museums. His prints are in private and museum collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Fels maintains a studio in Bennington Vermont.

Gail Pine is a photo-based artist. Her work has been exhibited widely and is held in private and museum collections, among them The J.Paul Getty Museum (collaborative work), Los Angeles CA; Cleveland Museum of Art (collaborative work) Cleveland OH; Scott Rowland Architecture, Santa Barbara CA; Studly, Inc: (collaborative work) various locations within the United States; and the University of California at Santa Barbara, Special Collections, Santa Barbara CA. Pine lives and works in Santa Barbara, California.


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