Sunday, March 23, 2014

Crachiola's Detroit at Scott Edwards; Cartier-Bresson's Europe at A Gallery for Fine Photography

Detroit's decline has long been in the news, and despite recent glimmers of hope, its future is still unclear. Once a booming manufacturing hub, Motor City's long, slow journey in reverse took it to the dark side of the American Dream, a bleak dystopia not unlike what Nola might have become had Congressional conservatives succeeded in blocking our rebuilding effort. Detroit photographer Joe Crachiola has recorded his city since1971, depicting not only its blighted homes and factories but also the vibrancy seen in animated children playing with a lost grocery cart in Cherry Street, 1973, or in blues singer Sippie Wallace seated in a wheelchair at her piano, belting out a song in 1986. And there is also a soulfulness in his views of rotting abandoned homes like The Baby Doll House, left, where discarded dolls adorn its windows in an attempt to get the attention of city demolition crews. (It worked.) In another surreal image, a large replica of a cow's head atop an abandoned Dairy Bar, top, looks totemic, like a mysterious artifact unearthed by archaeologists. Here its suggestion of a lost civilization is a cautionary reminder of what happens when endemic neglect runs its course unchecked.

A different kind of street photography appears in the work of the late, great Henri Cartier-Bresson at A Gallery for Fine Photography, where a stellar sampling of his greatest hits, and some less familiar images, are on view. His Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris, 1932, left, provides an emblematic example of his approach as a man, seemingly suspended in midair, hops across the mirror-like surface of a puddle in which his form is perfectly reflected. Similarly epiphanous encounters appear in his Valencia, Spain (Roman Amphitheater) 1934, above, and his Hyeres France 1933, below. For Bresson, time and space are a dynamic continuum where the decisive moment is always now, and this pristine composition illustrates how a single moment, if perfectly realized, can epitomize all that is timeless and infinite. ~Bookhardt 

De Troit: A Photographic Homage:  Photographs by Joseph Crachiola, Through June 7, Scott Edwards Gallery, 2109 Decatur St., 610-0581; Henri Cartier-Bresson: Classic Black and White Photographs, Through May 5, A Gallery For Fine Photography, 241 Chartres St., 568-1313. Left: Hyeres France 1933