Sunday, January 23, 2011

Appreciating the big picture: photography by Michael Schultz

I grew up in the industrial city along the Delaware River, Chester, Pennsyvania. My Dad was a draftsman, then a petroleum engineer at a refinery on the riverfront. He drew the specs for the energy distillery that still stands in Marcus Hook, Pa. As a boy, he strolled me around the industrial edifices that arose from his drafting table. We swam in a quarry often, making careless high-dives from the ledges into the chilling water below. Pretty dumb, but loads of fun.

Michael Schultz’s photography exhibition at the Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art gallery in the Kansas City Crossroads took me back home. His quarry in Vermont is not meant for repeated diving, for there’s no water below, but the scale and detail of images placed me square upon the ledge again. I dove close in to see, then stepped back often to appreciate the expanse. I haven’t seen photography and sumptuous printing like this before.

Sherry has artfully juxtaposed his intense realism across the room from Julia Fernandez-Pol’s delicious dreamy paintings (a curator's artful diptych). But even with Michael's realistic images, I sense a poignant pang of memory, trying to remember those strolls around Dad’s refinery and that quarry swimming hole; dreamy remnants of industry and stone near the moving Delaware that moves me back to when I was young and dumb enough to dive from way too high to realize how high.

Photos by me.

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