First Friday: Invasion of winter and public spaces

abbottcapecodThe cooler weather, the early darkness changed the 2nd Street outdoor scene to something somewhat less inviting. But galleries that otherwise might get passed by looked warm and inviting.

So Roberta and I went to Exhibit 231, photographer James Abbott’s gallery at 231 N. 3rd St. Abbott’s own photographs were hanging along with some by Joel Katz and by Trish Thompson. Abbott said the photos had been up for the open studio tours, and he decided to leave them up for First Friday.

Abbott’s own work, mostly multi-frame panoramas from his recent Outer Cape Artist-in-Residency program in Cape Cod, were wonderful, weather-infused meditations. Their sweep of landscape and point of view suggest how narrow our place and vision in the vastness around us. At the same time, delicate textures call the eye back to what’s local and tangible.

katzgoodfridayprocessionAlso interesting were Joel Katz’s documentary photos of a Good Friday procession in Italy, the ritual garb looking startlingly close to Ku Klux Klan sheets (it’s that religion and politics theme again).

All this made me think some more about the fly-on-the-wall approach to taking pictures on the street of people we don’t know. The camera’s peephole changes the terms of private identity in public spaces. We have come to accept it in news photos and National Geographic and diaristic Web cams, but in some sense those peepholes rob us of our unselfconscious relationship to the world around us.
abbott, james