“From Commercial to Fine Art
By Leon Graham
“Raindrop” is currently on display at The White Gallery. photo by Joe DiMaggio
“Crossing the Line,” now at The White Gallery in Lakeville, is a collection of work from three talented commercial photographers, good friends with award-winning credentials, who now make fine art for their own pleasure. Throughout their careers they created images for magazine publishers, advertising agencies, major companies. Now they bring the same eye and originality to these very personal photographs.
Dennis Wheeler is best known for the many Time magazine covers he created. And created is the right word, because he made covers that were collages designed to grab attention on newsstands as well as comment on the cover subject in powerful ways. Four silhouetted male profiles — red, yellow, white, black — overlapped for a story on leadership in America. A cover on the sex explosion showed a young man and woman facing each other with much of their bodies covered by a giant fig leaf zippered down the middle.
At the White, Wheeler shows complex mixed media collages of carefully arranged objects, drawings, little photos, slashes of paint both long and short, all on brilliantly colored backgrounds.
“Pasture” stands out for its evocation of land and horses and the suggestion of fences. Made in browns and blues, the work is focused on a central black-and-white image of horses eating in a pasture. A gentle horse face peers at us from behind the pastured animals; there are small pictures of lakes too. All lie on swirls of thin, colored lines that suggest fencing wire.
JoAnne Kalish was the first woman photographer at Sports Illustrated. She is known for her ability to capture light and motion, as well as for the sensuality of many images. Her pictures of vegetables — two bell peppers at the White show — are luscious, rounded, inviting. Her pears are erotic and painterly. Even the two dogs meeting in “Venezia” seem about to begin a romance.
Kalish’s “Eiffel” is a pyramid of luminosity as if reflected in water. Her “Reflections” catches a small boat to the left tied up on a narrow canal, while buildings are reflected abstractly in the water on the right, which has the sheen of a mirror.
Kalish’s partner, Joe DiMaggio, is also a former Sports Illustrated and Time magazine photographer. (His and Kalisch’s images of professional hockey are now shown at the NHL Hall of Fame in Canada.) He worked for many advertising agencies, won many art direction awards. He is a master of suggesting motion in still photos. “Chevelle” shows a bright and shiny wheel cover that seems to be catching a passing landscape on its surface. In “Frankfurt,” a group of people are blurred so they appear in motion.
“Raindrop” catches a pearl of water as it is about to fall from the wide brim of a black cowboy hat that glistens from the moisture. We see only the nose and mouth of a man, who sports a marvelous neck bandana studded with white stars. “Infinity” is made of double yellow highway lines stretching into the distance between hazy trees and road shoulders that appear to converge up the road. It is wonderfully composed.
“Crossing the Line” continues at The White Gallery, 342 Main St. in Lakeville, Conn., through Sept. 9. The gallery is open Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 860-435-1029 or go to http://www.thewhitegalleryart.com.
“The Lakeville Journal, COMPASS,” August 4, 2016″