By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter
Thursday at Kaladi Brothers on the Sterling Highway will be an opening night for the joint exhibit by Redoubt Reporter photo contest winners. Two contests were held, in the spring and fall, and the winners have been asked to offer their framed prints up for exhibition this month. The artist reception is to be from 5 to 7 p.m. Come by to see the show and meet the photographers.
I thought it might be fun to take my very favorites from that lot, and to see if I can’t come up with both hearty accolades and constructive criticism for each of them.
Foremost in the body of work for me is a piece called “Kenai Lake Reflection” by Edward Beddow Jr. It’s funny to me that the title could go with just another landscape shot of the beautiful place we inhabit, but, instead, it seems an intensely personal and almost creepy image of a child’s reflection in water that is so full of leaves and sticks and moss growing underneath that it feels like a story I’m a little bit afraid to hear.
The expression on the face is quiet, like a Zen master’s, and some of the floating matter reads as bones to me. I could have this work hanging in my personal space and never tire of the interactions
between textures, colors and within the emotional layers my mind creates. My only criticism is the small light areas where the detail has vanished and the whites have effectively been “burned out,” which is somewhat distracting.
Wade Wahrenbrock’s “Twisted Stalk Berries” makes me happy every time I see it. The in-focus portion of the berry is so crisp, and the blur of colors surrounding it is so entirely abstracted, that this piece feels like a lively, colorful dance between the two. The composition choice adds just enough tension and visual interest, which is important because I’ve found that where most photographers fail or succeed is within the crop. If it were about something deeper, it would completely knock my socks off, but I don’t have
any technical criticism for this photo. As it is, it is a sweet shot of a beautiful thing, and that is enough.
Sandra Sterling’s “Rain on a Glass Ball” is bravely composed and delicious, but perhaps lacking the intimation of a deeper story, as well.
Speaking of beauty, the monuments in ice captured by Steve Epperheimer in “Converging Plates” have a glow and a substance to them that is extremely inviting to me. It’s as if the ice is in love with the clear blue sky, and the mountains sit back on their haunches, nodding slowly and approvingly at the union. The clouds carry off the good news to the interested landscapes elsewhere, and there is peace in the land. His point of view in this shot
really makes for an exciting visual. My sense is if he were to crop about one-twelfth of the image on the left, his composition would be just that much more powerful.
I see nothing that I would change in Sue Biggs’ entry, “Street Lights,” and besides some tighter cropping on “Drop” by Judi Price, I wouldn’t change anything there, either. “Wave,” also by Judi Price, is a sensual, soft shot that would gain a lot had she gotten some of the ice to be crisply in focus.
I am not all that much of a landscape lover, but George Matz’s “Kelly Lake Cool, Foggy Morning” can still elicit an audible sigh from me. If I could make any change I wanted to it, it would be to either make the stand of trees softer than it is, or sharper, with heightened contrast.
Looking at this group of photos en masse has given me an even finer appreciation for the “eyes” that we have here in our area. Keep it up, folks, and keep sharing so that we all can enjoy!
Zirrus VanDevere is a local mixed-media artist and owns Art Works. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.