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The Arts Voyager, 8-2: Summertime & the Curating is Stunning
Robin Rice broadens the vista and ups the Ante

Karine Laval, "Swimming Pool #24, Annecy, France." This photo and all images on this page copyright the photographers and courtesy Robin Rice Gallery.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- In the universe of New York art galleries, circa 2011 -- where just about anybody with a bit of money and a circle of cool-looking friends seems to be able to pitch a tent in Chelsea Canyon and call themselves a curator -- Robin Rice stands alone, packing a universe of perspectives into her relatively compact storefront gallery space at 325 W. 11th Street in the far west reaches of Greenwich Village. The gallery's current exhibition Summertime, running through September 11, is no exception, compressing an astounding variety of universes -- and printing processes -- into the seemingly limited space. Don't be deceived; if the title "Summertime" suggests an obvious theme, Rice's selection, deriving from a far-reaching curatorial outlook, is anything but.

Deftly deploying the 100+ works for the most part on the two walls which flank the gallery, Rice boldly places black and white next to color, silver gelatin and sepia next to printing processes you've never heard of, the (rare) cloyingly posed shot next to the more frequent classically composed, shot, and printed image that could come from any epoch over the past 100 years. Even the scope with which she's curated what can constitute "Summertime" shows a breadth of vision and expansive imagination that reaches into the viewers' own dream- and memory-scapes for frames that evoke the season, however obscure the connection might seem. Frames is the operative word, for Rice looks for the cinematic in photography, in both her own work and that of others she features -- indeed, she has said that her mission is to document the world around her in a cinematic way -- and she usually finds it, as demonstrated in the sampling below. The photographers she's chosen to work with help. Godard has said that the cinema d'auteur should mean that there's actually an auteur -- a craftsman who doesn't just plop a camera before a tableau but actually uses it, as a writer uses a pen, so that the art of the film-maker is actually in evidence. In contrast with just about every other contemporary photography exhibition I caught in New York this past spring, Rice's artists are more about craft in process and eye than cleverness in constructing a scene. (I've indulged in making my own little cinema with the ordering of the selection below; try it yourself with the images Rice has posted on her gallery's website.)

Linda Churilla "Longboard Afternoon, Ditch Plains."

David Saxe, "Gymnast, Miami Beach, 2007."

Micheal McLaughlin, "Hotel, Myrtle Beach."

Bill Delaney, "Motel Trees."

Pete Kelly, "Blur Stampede Panoramic."

Patricia McDonough, "Surf Volvo."

John Dolan, "Rink."

Todd Burris, "Mercer Street."

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