Books Become Art in Mary Ellen Bartley's Photos

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All the More Real, 2011 Archival Pigment Print 18"X27" © 2011 Mary Ellen Bartley
Books Become Art in Mary Ellen Bartley's Photos

49 Geary Street
Suite 410
San Francisco, CA 94108
September 15th, 2011 - October 29th, 2011
Opening: September 15th, 2011 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Union Square/Civic Center
Tuesday-Saturday 11:00-5:30 / Open until 7:30 on the first Thursday of each month


In our exhibit, Books, photographer Mary Ellen Bartley has taken the seemingly ordinary subject, books, and turned it into exceptional pieces of art.  The exhibit will be on view through October 29, 2011.

Corden|Potts Gallery is located at 49 Geary Street, Suite 410, in San Francisco. The gallery is open 11 am to 5:30 pm Tuesdays through Saturdays, and until 7:30 pm on the first Thursday of each month.

Over the past several years, Mary Ellen has photographed four series of books, including her Blue Books andPaperbacks. Speaking of her most recent series, Standing Open, Mary Ellen says, "While shooting stacks and rows of tightly closed paperback books, I started seeing some of the standing books loosen up and show bits of the space between their pages."

Drawn into the uniquely beautiful interior space of the books, she began opening all kinds of books and placing them standing open around her space, where sunlight might fall on them. "This quickly became a project of looking into my photography books in a new way," she says. "This work interests me on many levels. First is the sheer beauty of the physical books and the unique formal discoveries of looking at them close up. Among the repeating formal motifs I've found are the stripes the pages create, the shadowy voids between pages that read like burns or stains and the reflections the photos can make on the pages facing them."

On another level, Mary Ellen says, she's fascinated by conceptual ideas concerning appropriation and reproduction in a mechanical versus digital age, which the work can't help but throw into question. What is the unique aura or presence of a book? "Finally," she adds, "what drives the work for me is the emotional connection I have to the books. I'm trying to evoke the sensuality and intimacy of reading and looking through books, as well as the fleeting inspiration, little jolts of connection found for me in books I love."

Mary Ellen's work has been exhibited widely, including in the current Artists Choose Artists exhibit at The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY, for which artist Ross Bleckner selected her.  In addition, her work is currently on exhibit at The Houston Center for Photography; and has been seen in past shows at McKenzie Fine Art, New York, NY; Photographic Center Northwest, Seattle; and the Islip Museum, Islip, NY.

In September, we're also featuring a small selection of work from Meg Birnbaum's series Corn Dogs and Blue Ribbons.  It's a wonderfully touching series about the relationship 4Hers have with the animals they raise and show at county fairs.  Meg's series will be on view through October 1.