By Mark Dreisonstok
Falls Church Arts Gallery is exhibiting a collection of art photography which is not just unique and attention-grabbing in terms of striking images but also in implementing visually a thought-provoking theme. Entitled “Near and Far,” the exhibition has photographs which are of images close up and far-away—a theme realized at times in the same photograph, at times in two photographs depicting different spatial perspectives yet exhibited in close proximity to each other.
Constance Phelps, former design editor at National Geographic Magazine, juried the show, noting: “This exhibit explores the heights and depths and macro world of photography. Photographers show a broad range of talent and sensitivity to their subjects. Some have taken the ‘Near and Far’ theme literally by using the method of putting the foreground as close to the lens as you can. Controlling the depth of field is a fine art displayed in many of the photographs in this inspiring exhibit.”
Some locations are from far-away, including a close-up image of a room in far-off Bulgaria and a river panorama of the “golden Arno, as it shoots away/ Straight through the heart of Florence,” as Elizabeth Barrett Browning writes and Breanna Cuchara captures in her photograph “The Florence Bridge.”
The District of Columbia is presented from unusual vantage points, such as an overhead view of the sweeping winding staircase in Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library (David Horowitz, “Grand Descent”). A great favorite of this gallery visitor was James Hengst’s “Behind the Curtin,” a view of the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden with a large painted human mouth on an art poster as well as two onlookers “peeking,” as it were, from behind a curtain of autumn-colored foliage.
An especially poignant work from the Washington Mall is Breanna Cuchara’s “Covid Memorial at the Washington Monument.” Planted white flags are shown closeup with the Washington Monument looming in the distance, a reminder of far and near aspects as we are wise to be socially distant yet have become, in a sense, closer and nearer due to the common experience of the pandemic.
Also relatively near to readers of Falls Church News-Press is Rock Creek Park Cemetery. Photographer Pamela Huffman has visited the location a none-too-distant drive away to give us “Copper & Stone,” a close-up of glass on a Gothic-arched window reflecting trees and graves some distance behind. From the same photographer we have new growth and “old peeling wood” up close with the “Symphony of the Sky” (such is the picture’s title) above and far beyond.
Nature plays a key role in other photographs in the “Near and Far” exhibit as well. “At once far off and near,” as William Wordsworth phrases it in verse, are two “Trees in the Snow” by Bob Friedman. A close-up barren tree in the foreground is shadowed afar in the background by another tree also devoid of leaves against a snowy landscape.
Completing our review tour of “Near and Far” are “Relaxing in Ginter Garden” by Jane Podesta and “Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Party Founding” by Christy Gavitt. The first is a tranquil close-up view of a water lily pond at Ginter Botanical Garden outside of Richmond, Virginia. The second is of the North Korean capital city Pyongyang and presents a large Communist Party spectacle from which the photographer’s colorful depiction was taken, we presume, at a healthy distance!
“From me far off, with others all too near,” writes Shakespeare in the “Sonnets,” and this reviewer emerged from the exhibition with thoughts of how not only objects but also other human beings can be near yet far and distant. Pamela Huffman, events coordinator at the gallery, reminds us that though the photographic images are of nature, cities, and objects, we would do well to pay close attention to the people in the photographs, as they sometimes help tell the story of the images as well as add visual perspective.