Dark room dialogue 

Jackson Fine Arts show spans a decade of photo exhibitions

The silver print just inside the doorway at Jackson Fine Art is the perfect visual metaphor for Jane Jackson's 10-year anniversary as a fine art photography dealer. Looking back over his shoulder, a dark-haired young male wearing a black "Outlaw" jacket speeds across a bridge on his motorcycle.

There's infinite appeal in "Crossing the Ohio River at Louisville," a 1966 photo by Danny Lyon. The image represents just one example of Jackson's unparalleled eye for aesthetics that withstand the test of time. A number of photos in Ten Years Back, Ten Years Forward evoke the energy, style and forward momentum of the Atlanta gallery.

Michael Kenna's "Pathway Sceaux" (1998), an ethereal tree-lined path, denies the rough road to success. Jackson's come a long way since the days when she had to answer questions such as, "Why is this an art form?" from novice collectors. Ever since she started her business, she's conducted impromptu seminars about photographers, printing processes, the history of fine art photography and the difference between vintage and contemporary prints.

Running white deer captured on film by Paul Caponigro in Ireland 33 years ago could symbolize the intensifying tempo of the gallery since Jackson introduced the idea of exhibiting Elton John's photo collection at the High Museum of Art. Elton has consulted Jackson from year one of his passion for photography. In 1997, she became a member of the curatorial team that organized Chorus of Light: Photographs From the Sir Elton John Collection. The exclusive Atlanta show features hundreds of photographs from more than 2,500 individual prints that Elton has collected since the early 1990s. A number of works on view in the gallery are also on exhibit at the museum and many of the same artists are in both exhibitions.

Harry Callahan's painterly street scene "Chicago" is from a little-known larger scale series from 1958. Repeating silhouettes of windows and passengers in "Subscape" by Ray Metzker (1990) recall the 19th century Eadweard Muybridge motion studies. Henri Cartier-Bresson's "Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare" (1932) has a nostalgic reference. The classic print was the first photograph Jackson and her husband Clay acquired for their own collection years ago.

Traditional portraits are juxtaposed with more contemporary close-ups. Irving Penn photographs Peruvian children in 1948. Forty years later, Mary Ellen Mark catches Ram Prakash Singh wrapped up in elephant. Emerging artist Angela West gets Jackson's attention for her photographs of high school girls in prom dresses. In one untitled image from 1997, she records the fragility of a young blond in black. The edge of the girl's white bra peeks up under one arm and her wrist shows the trace of a thin elastic band.

West's formal portraits are displayed in a room full of fashion and romance. William Klein shows the sex appeal of "Smoke & Veil" in a 1958 Vogue photo. In "Evolution of a Bottle in Space V" (1999), the head of William Wegman's dog emerges from a construction of folded and crushed fabric that looks like a Frank Gehry design. "California," by Elliott Erwitt (1955) captures blissful lovers at the beach in the rearview mirror of their convertible.

Photos in the lower gallery space give an idea of Jackson's vision for the future. Lena Liv's spare box works evoke the personal and universal with their memory of lost childhood and innocence. She juxtaposes the quiet drama of small white shoes with the photograph of a flower, a young boy's face with a small blue ball, his eyes with a tiny toy soldier.

Rick Hard paints on tintypes to a whimsical effect. A woman is transformed into a monkey in "An Illusive Nature" (1996) and a teeny blossom grows a face for "Wildflower" (1999). Ron Jude's dog-size "Max Near the 45th Parallel" pictures an irresistible Dalmatian in the snow. Terry Weifenbach finds jewel-like colors in a suburban backyard.

Pensive sepia-toned poetry, Masao Yamamoto's 3-by-2 inch excerpt from A Box of Ku "#67" (1991) is a calligraphic landscape. Sally Mann transforms the majestic ruins of a Southern mansion into a dreamscape for her 40-by-50 inch "Deep South #9," an exquisite tea-toned print. Rocky Schenck works charcoal into his silver prints. "Uninvited" (1999) has the viewer looking wistfully through a tented scrim at a formal party.

A gathering of nude photographs on one wall study the timeless beauty of feminine geometry. Softly edged "Triangle" by Imogen Cunningham was taken in 1928. Tomio Seike's classic "Nude" (1994) is an equally lyric curvilinear form. This year, Alvin Booth collected gilded nude poses for the small-scale stop animation series that he mounts in handmade frames.

Jackson wants to keep growing. "Photography has changed so much in the last decade. There are things we need to do as a gallery to change with it, to keep our space fresh. We want to be a photo-based gallery. We won't just show artists doing prints."

Ten Years Back, Ten Years Forward is on exhibit through Jan. 6 at Jackson Fine Arts, 3115 E. Shadowlawn Ave. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tues.-Sat. 404-233-3739.

cathy.byrd@creativeloafing.com

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