I want to encourage my blog visitors to visit Calumet Photo’s Santa Ana Store (1430 S. Village Way, Santa Ana, CA 92705) and view the Jim Smart exhibit in the store’s gallery.
Jim’s landscape and two portrait images demonstrate strong photographic artisanship, patience for the light, with compositions that are simple and direct. What is great about this work is that you will not see the umpteenth ‘post card’-like landscape with cunning lighting and drama angles, techniques that are OK for a commercial presence but at the same time often seem awkward and over reaching. Instead, you will view a series of images that are quiet, reflective, and in a number of the images, there is a strong meditative quality. It’s this meditative quality that I find intriguing as he couples this to direct compositions that provoke questions that once cannot accurately form with words.
Smart is an accomplished English Professor, but as his exhibit demonstrates he is also an emerging fine art photographer who has come to terms with the fact that photography is seldom entirely within the control of the artist and is often a collaboration with chance. It is obvious that his visual voice is forging a process between the mediation of the camera and the dimension of his subjects and three of his images, (thumbnails included here) are illustrative of where his work is now and where it seems destined in the future.
In Barn on Bear Lake Utah, we have a flat plane, little ground, a tightly cropped memoir to times past. The bricks on the roof are a standalone sonata from the main composition, at once out of place and at the same time in harmony with barn’s past. In Dilapidated Barn, Montana, we have a foreground of new growth flowers juxtaposed against a barn roof sinking into the past. In his untitled ‘picket fenced house’, we view an abandoned homestead that has a sense of ghostly occupancy. The lightening rod, dead elm, and a lawn that seems to get an occasional mowing, delivers a quiet monument to vacancy and perhaps abandonment, a subject that I find intriguing.
I see these images as indicators of Jim’s emerging voice as he transients from solid image-maker to long-term art producer, because these images are indicative of vision, depth, and authentic sensitivity. And what of the other images on display— that are worthy of the wall space they occupy and allow us to appreciate Jim’s skills, and his intuitive ability to sympathize with the landscape as environment.
Go. See. And Enjoy Jim Smart.