Mark Steinmetz – the Greater Atlanta series

Calhoun, GA, 2000_Mark Steinmetz, Gelatin silver print

Calhoun, GA, 2000 (Greater Atlanta series)
Mark Steinmetz
Gelatin silver print

Highly recommend a visit this week!  But hurry…(exhibition through June 12, 2010 – at Charles A. Hartman Fine Art, in Portland, Oregon).

Your time will be rewarded with some very nice prints from Mark Steinmetz, Greater Atlanta.  This is Steinmetz third photobook forming a visual trilogy about the area from which the series takes its name. South East, and South Central are two previous books related to the series and were released and printed through Nazraeli. With each copy, the quality is very high as can be expected, at least from everything I’ve ever seen coming from Nazraeli.

Rt. 316, Barrow County, GA, 2005_ Mark Steinmetz Gelatin silver print
Rt. 316, Barrow County, GA, 2005  (Greater Atlanta series)
Mark Steinmetz
Gelatin silver print

Having picked up my own (signed) copies of the books back in early 2009 and being able to look at them as a group for a while – it is terrific to finally get to see select prints up on the wall from the Greater Atlanta series. The prints are both stunning and modest – much like what I might project upon the people, landscape, and urban scenery that Steinmetz presents.

I have to say that having the books and being able to see how well the prints are represented in the book as compared to the prints on the wall means that for my limited means, the books are absolutely valuable and worthy representations.  I can’t stress enough how terrific it is to be able to look again and again and again through the trilogy to appreciate the photos. Each time something new seems to catch my attention.

Mark Steinmetz_Barrow County, GA, 1994 Gelatin silver print
Barrow County, GA, 1994  (Greater Atlanta series)
Mark Steinmetz
Gelatin silver print

In some ways Steinmetz’ Greater Atlanta series – recalls parallels to some work by Robert Adams – sensible, in the moment pictures, that seem to be almost too perfect in composition and with a similar sort of dignity and presence held still within the pictures. These are “candid” shots – it seems mostly that the subjects in the pictures clearly recognize a picture’s being made.

My best at describing what I like about the series (my projection) is this:  If,  I was trying to describing what my place might look like to an outsider, I’d do well to show them these books about my neck of the woods.  But, it strikes me that unless I told them where I was from before hand, the stranger might miss a lot about the locations of the pictures. Something I imagine that I probably am missing as an outsider to the south.

There is an interesting passage in “Beauty in Photography” the collection of essays by Robert Adams, published by Aperture. From the essay “Truth and Landscape”, where Adams is describing how making photographs has to be a personal matter, somehow the photographer has to be in the picture…

“…what we hope for from the artist is help in discovering the significance of a place. In this sense we would in most respects choose thirty minutes with Edward Hopper’s painting Sunday Morning to thirty minutes on the street with what was his subject; with Hopper’s vision we see more…there seem to be moments of revelation…there is a sense of comprehension.” – Robert Adams

Adams goes on a bit before this into the three elements landscapes should offer: geography, autobiography and metaphor – the intensity of which these three are present raises the artistic act of what we all “work to keep intact – an affection for life.”

Mark Steinmetz_Athens, GA, 1995 Gelatin silver print

Athens, GA, 1995,  (the Greater Atlanta series)
Mark Steinmetz,
Gelatin silver print

Mark Steinmetz work on the Greater Atlanta series, as a group of photos, presents a lot more than just a picture of the “south” – and for this reason, I keep affectionately returning to the books.

More from Mark Steinmetz – website

Darwin, without the car…

Robert Adams_Frame for a Tract House

“Frame for a Tract House, Colorado Springs, Colorado”
1969 – © Robert Adams

“Something had to change,” he added. “You just can’t keep going with that many cars.” – source

Same might be said for houses (sprawl)…

Instead of feeling deprived of having a new car every other year (the marketing of personal identity wrapped up in the car one owns – needs a new twist – like the obnoxious “I own the road” Tahoe driver… we all hate them really don’t we?) –    one might feel freedom…  The car as a form of personal transportation is both a blessing and a curse – – obviously, now we must find alternatives that have less impact…

I wonder what (or if) Robert Adams would have found “The New West” – without the car.  Would Robert Frank have been able to make  “the Americans” ?

What purpose is a photograph?

What purpose is a photograph? 


Southwest from the South Jetty, Clatsop County, Oregon, 1990 A - Robert Adams

Southwest from the South Jetty, Clatsop County, Oregon, 1990 A - Robert Adams

We take them or make them. Maybe it does not matter to try not to forget  – a mark in time always, a promise perhaps – an insane attempt to address the inevitable next with optimism.

Three important and beautiful series of black-and-white landscape photographs will be showcased in Oceans, Rivers, and Skies: Ansel Adams, Robert Adams, and Alfred Stieglitz.

National Gallery of Art, October 12, 2008–March 15, 2009