Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Keith Pace – Espresso Americano, May 2009

The current show at Espresso Americano features a collection of photographs by Keith Pace. Pace has recently taken over the position of curator for art shows at this venue.

I have mixed feelings about Espresso Americano as an art venue. I fully support attempts to show original art and rotating art shows create an opportunity for the regulars to experience a wide range of artistic expression. But the facilities at this location were not designed with art in mind. Paintings are crammed into bookshelves, some with glass doors, which obscure the image behind. The lighting is less than optimal and the overall effect is a sense that the art is merely an afterthought. If Espresso Americano is serious about the art they hang, they should consider remodeling to create a space that doesn’t detract from the art.

The current display contains thirteen mid-sized photographs. The images are not labeled, but we are told they are pulled from three different series. The first group of five prints is from the Yellowstone Spring series. These are delicate and dreamy images from the hot and steamy area between the Yellowstone pools and the forest area around them. The photos focus on the chemically leached shorelines and the patterns formed in the inhospitable and alien apron: deep blue water surrounded by the bleached white of the ground and tree skeletons. These prints show us both life and lifelessness, but above all they represent the mystery of this special place.

There are three prints from the Carousel series. These prints show us the form of the wooden Merry-Go-Round horse. In one print the horse is given a sense of motion through an extended exposure. In another Pace gives us a child’s perspective, looking up into the face of the horse. The horse is intimidating, if not frightening. Looking into the photograph I am almost able to recall a time when mounting such a horse was an act of courage. Garish colors are pushed in these prints, which adds to the carnival atmosphere.

The last group of five paintings comes from Paces’ Block Ice series. I find these intriguing in part because I don’t have a clue as to the technique involved in their production. They are non-objective images with rich and intense primary colors and a texture as infinitely complex as a fractal.

Espresso Americano is located in the Everett Public Library at 2702 Hoyt, Everett. They are open Seven days a week, closing at 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays and closing at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. This exhibition continues through the end of May, 2009.

Mike Mallory

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