CoPA’s sixth annual juried show at Walker’s Point
Colleen Gunderson, Vicki Reed, Kenneth Oppriecht take the prizes at photography exhibition.
The Coalition of Photographic Arts, Inc., founded 2004, has made its mark on the Milwaukee art scene. As an advocacy group for contemporary photography, CoPA organizes several yearly exhibitions. Its Sixth Annual Midwest Juried Photo Exhibition, on view at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, draws out a variety of techniques and compositions and coalesces under keen curatorial eyes.
This year’s jurors hold strong museum credentials. Annemarie Sawkins, formerly of the Haggerty Museum of Art, is now an independent curator and consultant. Graeme Reid is assistant director of the Museum of Wisconsin Art. The photographs they selected for the two galleries share a sense of clarity in their compositions. Though uniquely Midwestern imagery is apparent in some works, others have notably cosmopolitan content from international locales. Photographic techniques vary. Some images show heavy editing and collage. Others engage in straight, documentary styles or cast moody glows and channel currents of Pictorialism.
A combination of stark clarity and breathy poetry is inherent in the first-place photograph by Colleen Gunderson, Essential Elements. It takes only a moment to recognize the central shape as a violin, but there is still satisfaction in the elegant curves of the graceful instrument, beautifully set off by the buttery light of the background and gleam of wood grain on the table beneath. The primary interest lies in a simple sense of beauty.
Aesthetic pleasure and the study of form lies at the heart of the third-place winner, Vicki Reed‘s Bleeding Hearts 2. See this large-scale print in person to fully perceive the velvety depth of the black background and translucent details of the flowers. The clarity of the image is nearly otherworldly, but not uniform. In edgy passages, leaves give up a little of their rigidity of line to a gentler focus. The picture is, at first glance, deceptively straightforward; the details unfurl over time.
Kenneth Oppriecht jests in two pieces in the exhibition, as he juxtaposes disparate architectures to arrive at something like Franken-houses, buildings seemingly at odds with themselves. In the second-prize winner, Duplex 1, a little house neatly occupies a little plot of land on which a roof-line joins halves of totally different buildings. The joke has underlying notion: An unlikely pair comes together to form something new. A metaphor for all those relationships in all those homes, perhaps?
Overt, iconic political statements are few and far between in this show, but Honorable Mention recipient Melody Carranza‘s powerful Solidarity III is one. Carranza, shooting at a recent protest, solidly combines visual punch in saturated, vibrant hues and the energy of possibility.
On a more restrained and minimalist level, Kenneth Kornacki‘s A’s is elegant, yet not devoid of sophisticated whimsy. In this black-and-white piece, projecting concrete forms seem to repeat the letter A in a boxy, cascading shapes. This striking image, like many other in the show, gains another vantage point on reality through the photographic lens.
CoPA’s 6th Annual Midwest Juried Photo Exhibition continues at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts (839 S. 5th Street) through January 19, 2013.