alissa davies on ed lavino
Alissa Davies is a fiber artist and painter. The following is her response/review to “IF / NOT / AT / ALL,” the current exhibit of still life photographs by Ed Lavino at the Art Association galleries.
Entering the loft gallery, I was first struck by the quietness of the black and white photographs that adorn the walls. Photographer Ed Lavino’s still lifes snake around the gallery and, as you circumnavigate around them, you realize that they are anything but silent. Each photograph pulls you in to its unique story, your eye jumping around from object to object, taking the composition in like the lines in a book. Pattern, texture, and great attention to composition and placement is strong, while underneath there is a sense of playfulness, commentary on issues of our day, and the mesmerizing exploration of movement.
The show “IF / NOT / AT / ALL” is comprised of only Lavino’s still lifes. Thomas Macker, curator of photography exhibitions at the Art Association, stumbled upon Lavino’s work through the Culture Front blog, clicking on his still lifes and instantly recognizing the power and thoughtfulness that they exude. Lavino has been exploring still lifes for twenty years, curious about how they communicate ideas, but has never had a show dedicated to only them, as he is also interested in landscape and portraiture photography. Having visited the show three times now, I relished in noticing new intricacies previously undiscovered and in entering the small worlds that each piece creates. I became a participant in the photographs story lines, a witness to their messages. When art allows you that access, that intimacy, it is a holy experience.
The backgrounds of each photograph are all blown up or out views of landscapes or of other artists work. A painting by Van Gogh is zoomed in on so that it becomes not a work by a famous master but a study on line and movement. An aerial view of the ocean is seen from far enough away that you sense the waves, but are also aware of the texture that water can invoke. And then there are the objects placed upon these abstracted backgrounds, clean and crisp in their presentation, arranged just so in order to build a narrative. When I spoke with Macker, he commented upon the objects and how the precious are intermingled with the mundane, how the natural blend with the human-made, all collected by the hand of Lavino, all selected with his artist eye for the purpose of story telling. Perhaps one of my favorite pieces entitled …. depicts a stark white photo of a group of explorers propped upon a dark, almost sinister looking, purple cabbage with a piece of oriental pottery placed upon it. It made me laugh out loud, these little men setting off to scale the foreboding vegetable, their risk hopefully to be rewarded at the top by the ceramic treasure.
I see Lavino’s show as being about risk as well, as the still lifes seem to speak of a personal and private side to the artist. These photographs are his inner worlds and now they are on display, inviting others to partake in the creation of their own stories. Bravo to Lavino for being brave and humble enough to make that interior world public and to Macker for having the insight to recognize the brilliance of the work.
IF / NOT / AT / ALL hangs in the Art Association’s ArtSpace Upstairs Gallery in the Center for the Arts until October 26.