13 November 2009

Now Showing at VERVE Gallery

Verve Gallery of Photography Presents
A Group Exhibition by Three Gallery Artists

Matilda Essig • Don Kirby • Stephen Strom

Opening Reception: Friday, November 13, 2009, 5-7pm
Exhibit is on view through Friday, January 8, 2010

Book Signings and Gallery Talks with Don Kirby and Stephen Strom
Saturday, November 14, 2009, 2-4pm

Gallery Talk with Matilda Essig
Friday, November 13, 2009, 4-5pm

Verve Gallery of Photography is pleased to present a three-person exhibition of landscapes with Verve gallery artists Matilda Essig, Don Kirby and Stephen Strom. The Opening Reception is held on Friday, November 13, 2009 from 5-7pm. There will be a Gallery Talk with Matilda Essig on Friday, November 13, 2009 from 4-5pm. Book Signings with Don Kirby and Stephen Strom will take place on Saturday, November 14 from 2-4pm. Both artists will discuss their images in the Verve exhibition, and sign books from their new publications: Stephen Strom, Earth Forms (Dewi Lews Publishing) and Don Kirby, Grasslands (Nazraeli Press). The exhibition is on view through Friday, January 8, 2010.

Santa Fean, Don Kirby, will be exhibiting black and white gelatin silver prints from his newly published book, Grasslands, a timely monograph of grasslands in the United States, sequenced geographically from America's heartland of Nebraska, the Dakotas, Kansas and Oklahoma through Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho, to Oregon and California.

“It is difficult to imagine scenes more politically relevant at this very moment than these photos from America’s great grasslands. The pivotal period for most of these places occurred in a time that is a close parallel to our own, so grasslands stand as living, breathing records of an age of upheaval, economic depression and well-meant policy gone wrong. That they persist is testimony to a unique American strength: an evolved and evolving commitment to conservation. Yet they are at the same time not so much a recollection of the past, as they are an exhortation of what we must do to honor this legacy." — From the Introduction by Richard Manning.

Don Kirby is a fine-art, large format, black and white photographer who lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Don specializes in traditional wet-process photography and produces limited edition prints for exhibit, purchase, publishing and license. He works primarily in the landscape, and within the landscape work has completed two major bodies of work, on the Ancestral Pueblo (Anasazi Cliff Dweller) culture of the Colorado Plateau, and the other on the Wheatcountry of the Northwestern US, which resulted in two books published by Nazraeli Press. The National Grasslands of the US started in 2005 and was published by Nazraeli Press in 2009. Don and his wife Joan lead acclaimed photography workshops throughout the U.S.

Stephen Strom, Arizona based artist, will be exhibiting color images from his new publication, Earth Forms, which incorporates more than 20 years of photographing the southwestern desert lands in the United States. In addition, Strom will also be exhibiting new work from his Tidal Visions series, images taken on both US coasts over the past few years. Strom brings to his landscapes the sensibilities of an astronomer who has lived in the desert for almost two decades. His images have the power to compress vast desert spaces in an illusion of intimacy and comprehension, presenting undulations of color and form which appear sculpted and other-worldly.

“…Not separate from the land or larger than it. Rather, they gracefully and respectfully exist inside it. Breathe with it. The camera is used to see with a circular viewpoint which becomes apparent even though the borders of the images remain rectangular. The land in these photographs is a beautiful force, in the way the Navajo mean the word ‘beautiful’...that has to do with living well, dreaming well, in a way that is complementary to all life.” – Poet Joy Harjo describing Strom’s imagery

Strom has spent his professional career as an astronomer, holding such appointments as Lecturer in Astronomy at Harvard; Astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; Chairman of the Five College Astronomy Department and in 1998 Strom returned to Tucson served as Associate Director of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory where he worked until he retired in May, 2007.

Strom began photographing in1978. His work, largely interpretations of landscapes, has been exhibited widely throughout the United States and is held in several permanent collections. His photographs complement poems and essays in three books published by the University of Arizona Press: Secrets from the Center of the World, a collaboration with Muscogee poet Joy Harjo, Sonoita Plain: Views from a Southwester Grassland, a collaboration with ecologists Jane and Carl Bock, and Tseyi (Deep in the Rock): Reflections on Canyon de Chelly, co-authored with Navajo poet Laura Tohe. Most recently, his work appeared in Otero Mesa: Preserving America’s Wildest Grassland (University of New Mexico Press).

Arizona based artist, Matilda Essig, will be showing color portraits of native grasses from the Apache Highlands. She sees the grasslands as an intricate community of individual characters that work together to stabilize the watersheds and open space.

“My work has always been about the natural world and man’s relationship to it. In this case, it is about celebrating the diversity of one of the earth’s great healers, the grasses. Each one has a story to tell about adaptation and resilience. From their beauty, we may glean inspiration during this time of tumultuous environmental change.”

Using a high-resolution scanner, Essig is able to offer entrance to a world of fantastical detail. Her final output is archival inkjet on watercolor paper. While this work is entirely digitally created, she comes to these methods from a traditional fine arts background, having studied painting and drawing in a classical academic setting. Years of natural science illustration also sharpened her powers of observation. By allowing the subject to express itself as directly as possible to the viewer, it is the artist’s hope to foster a sense of reconnection between humanity and the natural world.

Born in Philadelphia in 1957, Matilda grew up in the realist tradition, watching her father paint portraits of many world leaders. She studied art and agriculture at schools throughout the country, and has degrees from Sterling College, Reed College, and the Art Students League of New York. Teachers included Frank Golhke, Joseph Scheer, Frank Mason, and Nelson Shanks. Eventually, her passion for conservation led her to work collaboratively with scientists and policy makers as an illustrator and interpretive consultant, which brought a computer into her studio in 1996. Essig’s lifelong fascination with the integrity of land-based cultures has led her to explore many landscapes: the Amish farmlands of Pennsylvania, the temperate forests of Oregon, the rainforests of Ecuador, the Sonoran Desert, and now the shortgrass prairie of Arizona, where she lives and works.

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