Sunday, February 21, 2010

The American Dream at the Photo Alliance Gallery

    The latest in the Nola Photo Alliance's shows spotlighting accomplished, if not always famous, photographers THE AMERICAN DREAM gives us an unvarnished view of life in these times. As a national precept, the American Dream of an ever more rewarding life was getting a little frayed around the edges even before the economy’s near collapse in late 2008, and the images in this show reflect something of that ambiguity in a kind of collective national snapshot. There is a marked matter-of-factness about these faces and places, and the tone is at times almost Lenten, as if the party is over and everyone is trying to hang on and make the best of whatever comes next.

      But America is still America, and hope and pride are never far from the surface as we see in THE NIGHT BEFORE OBAMA’S INAUGURATION, WASHINGTON DC, by Roman Alokhin, right, a stark view of a black guy in an overcoat, suitcase at his side, lit by a streetlight as he hunches over a cell phone in the pre-dawn expanse of the Washington Mall. The setting may be cold and dark but the hope and anticipation are palpable. And then there's Alison Malone's THE MESSENGERS, below, a formal group portrait of some young female Masons looking either like All American girls or the Stepford Wives of tomorrow, depending on your point of view. No less ironic is Lili Holzer-Glier’s WHITE PICKET FENCE view of a picket fence bounding the neglected yards of some moldering frame houses in a blighted urban setting. Here the trim lines of the fence only highlight the blight, putting an old cliché in a stark context. But this isn’t the Great Depression. These days we have more of a safety net and no end of resourcefulness, and most people are getting by. In David Schalliol’s DINNER AT THE TACO STAND, top, a pretty Latina serves her patrons from inside a trim white Taco wagon somewhere in America. Framed by a Vermeer blue sky, this is a classic vision of an American Dream that mingles today’s reality with the hope of a more bountiful tomorrow.  ~Bookhardt
A talk by show juror Dr. Deborah Willis will take place on 6pm, March 20at the Photo Alliance Gallery
 THE AMERICAN DREAM: National Juried Photographic Exhibit
Through March 21 (Fridays 3 to 6, Saturday & Sunday 12 to 4, or by appt.)
New Orleans Photo Alliance, 1111 St. Mary St., 610-4899; www.neworleansphotoalliance.org