Today I visited (as planned) the photo show over in the Ballston area. It was quite tricky to see this show which is open limited days and limited hours. For some reason I always want to do this type of thing on Monday, which is not an option. Also, last time I was over there, I was told I could park at the building and they would validate my parking. I attempted to do this, but there was a big sign saying "Monthly Parking Only." I circled a few times and found a metered space. When I inquired, I was told, "Oh, it does SAY that, but you can park in the garage." Next time, I'm going to try it.
The show itself was juried by Michelle Anne Delaney who has worked at the Smithsonian American History Museum (nickname) for more than fifteen years. Almost any medium loosely fitting into the photography category was eligible for inclusion. The array of alternative processes chosen for the exhibit was dizzying. A few I recall were silver gelatin prints, Ilfachrome, Polaroid transfers, digital prints (many), cyanotype and palladium prints. I have probably left several out.
The images themselves were mostly architectural or figurative. Many street scenes from around the world, but most American scenes had a nostalgic bent. A very small percentage of the works were in color, perhaps one-fifth. A few were handcolored, but most of these were digital prints, so likely "Photoshopped." A small percentage of the photos looked like amateur photos of children and the like which just happened to come out well. Others were well thought out or planned shots. There were almost no animals in the show.... two pieces with horses and one with sheep. Surely there was a dog somewhere, but I don't now recall it!
One of my personal favorites was a black and white photo taken in China of a man (I think) begging on the street. There was a printed container on the sidewalk in front of him with beautifully designed Chinese bills inside. He was laying down on the pavement over his cane. The salt and pepper hair, his weathered skin and the ornate money were a wonderful composition. The emotion it elicited was also powerful.
Another photo I enjoyed was titled "Mall Rats." It was taken on the National Mall in DC and showed wonderful elongated shadows of two people. Very small in the background you notice the Capitol building. Although a regular black and white photo, the image appears abstracted or distorted. Maybe it is just me, but I have always loved the elongated shadows in the afternoon.
One interesting thing I noted was that visitors to the gallery were given tiny stickers to place under the title cards to "vote" for which works they believed should have been given awards. I was not offered a sticker, so I don't know if that was done by a specific group or if they have just stopped doing it since the show has been up for so long. What a democratic way of silently showing approval or disapproval with the outcome.
If I have piqued your interest, the show only runs until April 1, 2006. Sorry I don't have a link to the Ellipse Gallery, but apparently it doesn't have its own website.