Art

Photographer Meredith Garcia paints with light

Local art gallery presents 'The Paseo with Garcia - Black and White'

By Virginia L. Clark
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 9/10/19

Perusing suggestive shadows and refractions is how Meredith Garcia trips the light fantastic in her art. She says she "paints with light," an evocative description of her process, …

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Art

Photographer Meredith Garcia paints with light

Local art gallery presents 'The Paseo with Garcia - Black and White'

Posted

Perusing suggestive shadows and refractions is how Meredith Garcia trips the light fantastic in her art. She says she "paints with light," an evocative description of her process, and well-expressed in her new exhibit of never-before-seen prints opening this week.

Coinciding with the debut of The Paseo 2019 Friday (Sept. 13), an opening reception for her show titled "Garcia - Black and White" is planned from 6-8 p.m. at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art, 119-A Kit Carson Road.

"An artist with The Paseo will be having a light show along Kit Carson Road," said gallery artist-owner Rob Nightingale in an email about the show's genesis, "and we thought it would be great to participate by having a selection of Meredith's works - also dealing with light and contrast." He suggests art lovers start their evening with this exhibit and then go on to enjoy The Paseo.

"Garcia - Black and White" is about reality, Garcia said in a phone interview. She said she peers deeply, abstractly, delighting in disconnecting her photographic imagery from any specific place, rejoicing in biological flow, in grains of sand, twisting vigas (adobe building roof support beams) or exploding vortices of stone.

"I find this focus on composition to be intellectually as well as artistically rigorous, but still productive of aesthetically pleasing images," Garcia is quoted in the press release. "My work continues the tradition of Ansel Adams, Minor White and Jan Gruber."

Her passion is for abstraction, she says, noting that Nightingale's preference is for more recognizable content, Garcia said about how the pair curated this exhibit.

"For this show I picked out 50 images from my archive and sent them to Rob and he picked out what he wanted. It was fun - fun working with each other on this."

All but one of the artworks on exhibit are fairly small, consisting of either 8-by-14-inch or 12-by-12-inch, framed, one-of-a-kind prints. Garcia said she never prints more than one image of each work, to preserve the unique integrity of each piece.

"Window on Infinity," however, is a 20-by-20-inch piece printed with the assistance of Sasha Von Dorp (this year's Taos Fall Arts Festival poster artist) at Barry Norris' studio in Taos. It is the centerpiece of the exhibit, mounted on an aluminum base with the smaller pieces to be hung surrounding the central image. The shot is from a Jeep tour of Monument Valley in Utah.

An offset close-up of a hole in a domed rock, shot from below, the image looks like a shooting star or, from another angle, like a full moon emerging or entering eclipse. But "in reality" the hole opens onto shaded canyon walls, then cliffs further distant, topped by a little piece of sky.

"I do strictly darkroom photography. It's like jazz," she said - paraphrasing a quote she attributes to John Coltrane that strikes her as deeply pertinent to the way she works. "You don't have to play all the notes. I'm not trying to duplicate a negative or get every pixel in a row. To me there's more freedom in film photography, more freedom of expression."

She further explores inspiration in her online artist statement using the jazz metaphor, "where the structure of the music is no structure at all, and where the notes lead wherever you let them take you. Jazz musicians do not let themselves be forced into boxes by the expectations of others. They find themselves in strange and unknown places. The great saxophonist John Coltrane was once asked by Miles Davis, 'Trane, how come you play so long?' Not to be intimidated, Coltrane replied, 'Miles, that's how long it takes me to get it out.' You go where the music leads you. In the darkroom, that is my strategy. I go where the photograph takes me, and I rely on my inner sense of aesthetics to shape my work rather than a technical playbook designed by someone else."

Garcia agrees with many analog photographers, in that you spend a lot more time composing a shot using film. And then the magic happens in the darkroom. Each time a photograph is printed it will be different than before - the water temperature or innumerable other minor alterations happen.

"Every image is a unique work of art because you - who are developing the film - are not a machine, you are a human being," she said. "It's just not click, click, click and you end up with 2,000 images," she says, as in digital photography.

"As a photographer I look at the world in a different manner," she continued online. "Similarly, shadows - and reflections of objects, transcend their literal content and meaning, entering into the mystery of what constitutes reality … which is real - and which is the illusion? If art consists of one limbic system communicating with another, which I believe it does, then the reality is in the eye of the beholder. In my photographs, I strive to distill the essence of the real world while asking the viewer to find his own reality within that image."

"The gallery and Meredith Garcia are pleased to be a part of The Paseo event," Nightingale concluded in the press materials, noting, too, how the event is encouraging to "all new art forms and educating the public visually with creativity."

For more information, call (575) 758-3255 or visit wnightingale.com or imagemaycontain.com.

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