VERVE Gallery of Photography is pleased to present our Fall Exhibition, A Sense of Time, displaying the works of three VERVE Gallery Artists - Susan Burnstine, Michael Crouser and Douglas Ethridge. Susan Burnstine’s, Absence of Being and Michael Crouser’s, Sin Tiempo address time or the absence or end of time and timelessness in their splendid imagery. Their work evokes a timeless sensibility, exploring both nightmarish dreams and chanced vignettes, as if frozen in time for eternity. On the other hand, Douglas Ethridge’s, A Cycle of Seasons, is an engaging juxtaposition in that his images explore the timeless beauty one finds in recurring seasonal vacillations.
Absence of Being
Susan Burnstine is one of the few photographers today avidly pursuing alternative processes to create an idiosyncratic and deeply personal visual landscape. As a child, she suffered vivid nightmares that stayed with her for days. When awake, these powerful dreams would induce a liminal state that opened up an exploration of the sublevels of her mind, wherein she discovered a curious synthesis of magic and reality. She found in these portals to the unknown states of mind that bridged the gap between real and unreal, and even symbolic intimations of life and death. Though the intensity of her dreams did not lessen as an adult, her response transformed. “Initially,” she says, “I was lost within the haze of my dreams. But now, it is through my dreams that I truly see.” SF Weekly writes of Susan’s work: The undeniable beauty of Burnstine’s black-and-white photos [haunting and seductive interpretations of dreams], and their connection to dreams brought on by family tragedy, give them an intensity that is both intellectual and visceral.
“A plane disappears into the clouds. We can’t see it, hear it or touch it, but we know it’s there. Our senses can give us no tangible evidence it continues to exist. But still, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt it’s there. We suspend limitations of our senses, and believe.”
“When a person dies, do they simply cease to exist because they no longer have a physical presence? Or do they remain with us through the remnants of the lives they lived? When a building is razed, is it truly obliterated, or does its imprint remain in the collective unconscious?”
“This ongoing series explores how the past remains with us, if only in shadows. These images capture fleeting memories, spotted from the corner of an eye that vanish the moment we turn to really look. And yet they remain, for the imprint remains with us. We are living in the present, but the past reminds us that it is part of us, too, as is the future, and we of them.”
“With this body of work as with my former series, I captured these visions entirely in-camera using a collection of hand-made film cameras and lenses that are frequently unpredictable and technically challenging. The cameras are primarily made out of plastic, vintage camera parts and random household objects and the single element lenses are molded out of plastic and rubber. Learning to overcome their extensive limitations has required me to rely on instinct and intuition – the same tools that are key when trusting in the unseen.
Susan Burnstine is an award winning fine art and commercial photographer originally from Chicago now based in Los Angeles. Susan is represented in galleries across the world, widely published and has also written for several photography magazines, including a monthly column for Black and White Magazine (UK). Burnstine was nominated for the 2009 Santa Fe Prize for Photography and winner of B&W Magazine's 2008 Portfolio Spotlight Award.
Susan's first monograph, Within Shadows, has been published by CHARTA Editions and was released in Europe at the The Venice Biennale in June 2011. Additionally, Within Shadows, earned the Gold award for PX3 Prix De La Photographie Paris in the Professional Fine Art Books category and a Bronze overall.
Michael Crouser gives us the first read for his photography, the literal rather than the symbolic aspects of this body of work. He gives us the meaning of his work at its most basic level. Here is how he describes it:
“In 1986, after college, while traveling through Europe, I made a photograph of a woman selling her wares in the bookstalls near the river Seine. I made the picture quickly, and didn't give it much thought thereafter until I returned home to process my film. Upon seeing the negative, and the subsequent print, I noticed something striking about the image. There was no evidence of popular culture in the photograph. No modern adverting typography, fashion, none of the latest automobiles or hairstyles. There was nothing in the image that fixes the image in time. Thus, the image exists, for me, outside of time. It was the beginning of a realization that I am drawn to this aesthetic... chance vignettes, the crossing of certain faces, buildings, clothing, and light, that offer a scene that I think of as "sin tiempo"...Spanish for "without time”.
“Around the same time I discovered the bullfights in Spain, and made another image that reinforced the burgeoning attraction to the "sin tiempo" concept. It was a young groundskeeper simply considering his rake. His face, his clothing, the entire scene exists in space; however, outside of the influence of that current time in culture; absent of cues that fix dates, the era in which the image was shot, that moment in time. I made an entire book on the corrida de toros (LOS TOROS), with that phenomenon and focus in mind, the absence of current references that create a vintage for the photograph. In the years since I have remained drawn to such scenes and to the making of such imagery.”
“There are certain elements I won't include in one of the images from Sin Tiempo; nevertheless, new challenges present themselves as I seize new opportunities to add to this work. These challenges are opportunities that allow the series to live and breathe and grow, so that with each new image I capture and create a new flavor and a new voice for the work. The prints in this series are the result of an unremitting aesthetic fascination with this theme and an uninterrupted photographic education.”
“All of my photographs are shot on Tri-X film and printed as toned silver gelatin prints in a traditional darkroom. I tell my students that "how you speak is as important as what you say", and for me that means working in a tactile and traditional way. I believe that process is vastly important if one considers photography to be a personal expression, as I do. The photographs of my own that make me the happiest also feel like the best reflections of myself. They feel like extensions of myself.”
Michael Crouser was born in 1962 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was graduated from Saint John's University (Collegville, MN) in 1985. Michael began making photographs in earnest at the age of fourteen. Crouser's first monograph, Los Toros (Twin Palms Publishers 2007) was awarded first prize in the Fine Art Book category at 2008 International Photography Awards. His work can be found in the permanent collections of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts and The Museum of Fine Art, Houston. He has taught at The International Center of Photography in New York, The Mpls Photo Center and The Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Michael Crouser’s work has been exhibited throughout the US and Europe. When not on the road, he divides his time between his hometown of Minneapolis and where he now lives, Brooklyn, New York.
A Cycle of Seasons
According to Bruce Jensen, editor of LensWork, Doug Ethridge “is blazing a trail”. Doug is trained as both an excellent still photographer and a superb videographer. Hence, it isn’t surprising that Doug would venture new ground and incorporate the two mediums. As one looks at Doug’s video sequences, one can see the strength of his eye as a still photographer. The images that begin sequences in the short films are that of the eye of a still photographer’s. The scenes then dissolve into sensitive fluid dream-like films that portray artistically the cycle of the four seasons.
A Cycle of Seasons is an installation of four short films and accompanying mixed-media prints that document four seasons near the artist’s home in rural Washington State. 27 Mornings In Winter is a month-long diary of simple observations along an 8-mile stretch of road. Cause and Effect celebrates the complex interplay between sky and water as spring storms blow in from across the Pacific. Pursuit of the Elusive Lumen explores the unique quality of summer light in the Northwest. The Season of the Loon is a reflective, many-textured fall meditation on hidden locations in remote coastal Washington.
“I have never considered myself a ‘nature photographer’ in the traditional sense of waiting for exactly the perfect moment when lighting and composition come together for one single image. I’m much more inclined to look for patterns and stories so as to document how things evolve and move. I like to compare and contrast, and to integrate music and sound into the overall experience for the viewer. The ability to utilize HD video as an acquisition tool and then create short films as well as prints in a variety of media fits my natural inclination as a storyteller. I am lucky to live in a place with distinct seasons and where the weather and tidal shifts constantly deliver an amazing array of visual opportunities every single day.”
“A Cycle of Seasons is a return to my roots….. I have always looked to the forest with comfort and ease as a place of wonder, a place of solace, a place of unending beauty on scales both grand and small. In a very real sense, these forests and remote shorelines are the cathedrals of my spirit, holy in every sense of the word. I hope the viewers of this installation carry away with them something of the peace and wonder that I find so inspiring….”
Douglas Ethridge is a writer, a video producer, and fine art photographer. Douglas’s roots are in the Northwest, where he attended Reed College and the University of Washington in Seattle. His first creative efforts centered around music where he learned classical music and jazz. When Douglas moved on from music, he picked up a camera and after a trip to Kyoto, he found himself teaching photography and working for a small production company as a photographer and writer. After a few years, he started his own production company that became very successful. By 2000, he went back to making fine art photography. Douglas has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the U.S. and in Europe and he exhibited "Selective Memories" at the Lishui International Photo Festival in China in 2009. His work has been published in numerous magazines including LensWork, Camera Arts, COLOR, Hasselblad, B&W Magazine, B&W UK, and Chinese Photographer. He and his wife live on the shores of Hood Canal in Washington State.