Fine Art Photography Exhibit Review

Bill NorthArtist Portrait 4x5x300 FLAT FINAL

Bill North

Rust Revised
by Bill North

Calumet Gallery
1135 N. Highland Ave. Hollywood, CA 90038
October 4 – November 4, 2013
Artist Reception: October 10th, 2013 – 6pm

In a time when photographs have become commoditized, and to a great extent homogenized, it is refreshing to see images that explore nothing as they search for something; that is the world of the abstract and Fine Art Photographer Bill North who has found expression in iron oxide or rust. Working with a sheet of aged corrugated metal, Bill explores and elevates tiny bits of distressed metal into scalable, emotional triggers.

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Rusty Dancers,
Variation 2 © Bill North

Some images in his emerging growth exhibit, Rust Revised, bear a wicked relation to Jackson Pollock paintings, whereas others have the ambiance and perhaps ambivalence of early Navajo Petroglyphs. “I find it self-revealing when I look at a photograph and cannot tell what I’m looking at,” says North. “What is more revealing is when I look at that same photograph and feel something unsaid, perhaps as abstract as the image is unto itself.”

Rust Revised does not address the abstract genre per se. Nor do these photographs attempt to mimic painting. In a large measure, they transcend the abstract genre. The exhibit of 18 prints is a study of corrugated metallic surfaces, where patches of oxidation form metaphorical symbols against troubled iron and tin backgrounds. Raw perceptions of gritty oxides adjoin images of advanced abstraction. The saturation levels are high and perhaps exalting in many cases.  A faint sense of Arizona nativism scampers across blue tin, rust trails wander along gray streams of oxidation, and splashes of metallic colors exist for—existence.

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Sheet Metal Teardrop,
Variation 1 © Bill North

North’s attention to detail is a reflection of his many years in the computer industry, and the manner in which each image combines a sense of space and minimalism, reflect his sparse travel photographs. “As a photographer, if I am quiet enough within and respectful enough of the subject, a kind of trust emerges, and I am allowed a momentary glimpse beyond the surface. This exhibition is a collection of some of those moments for me.”

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Pollock Play,
Variation 1 © Bill North

Born in Tucson and raised in Arizona, Bill became interested in photography while exploring bellows cameras as a child. He deepened this interest with photography courses at MIT from internationally acclaimed photographer and professor, Minor White.  “His approach presented photography as a spiritual discipline, certainly not what I had expected, and advanced the idea that the most moving photographs were both graphic and metaphorical,” says Bill. “His theory on emotional equivalents was ground breaking at the time and influenced my photography then and now. Rust Revised is a major shift in my thinking; one that has lurked within me like a latent image on film since Minor White stood in front of my class.”

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Sheet Metal Shoreline,
Variation 1 © Bill North

As an emerging fine art photographer, it is clear that North’s work has broken all the traditions of his personal past and in a number of images, he has transcended the aesthetically evaluative photographs common to the fine art genre. North’s work expresses action, contemplation, and a search for something in nothing.

“It’s been decades but I am beginning to understand what Professor White was trying to teach us – that the best photographs aren’t just about the “things”. They are really about how we see and feel, how the light informs, conceals, reveals, and transforms. “

As to Rust Revised, I think Minor White would give this student an ‘A’.

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