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AIPAD Show (continued)

 "Anonymous" had three images which were described as "Photomechanical images with oil." They appeared to be toned, painted, manipulated in the dark room and printed on some strange surface. To get the inside dope on "Anonymous" we plied the dealer, Mr. Cohen himself, even offering a small bribe - mention of his gallery in this article. It didn’t even make a dent. Apparently Cohen had been sworn to secrecy and despite our persistence, maintained an honorable silence about the details. We wanted to know if "Anonymous" was male or female, American or foreign, young or old, etc. Cohen said the artist did not want to be recognized or known for the work, but hoped it would stand entirely on its own merits. We thought it did, particularly #206 which showed a young woman with three arms, her hands folded across her chest. Prices were $3600 to $4000. "Anonymous" is not courting fame, but fortune might not be a bad thing.

    We found no more painted images, but we did find much in the way of otherwise-altered images. Alvin Booth, of the Yancy Richardson Gallery, NY, showed a series of small, close-up, strangely altered, silvered, bleached and toned nudes. The approximately 11" x 14" pictures were framed with hand pounded copper edging that contrasted nicely with the ethereal yet solid images portrayed. At Richardson’s we were also attracted to Frederic Weber’s Memento Mori series of textured, gold, red, layered cibachromes. All were portraits of young black men, one of which looked like a new and even more mysterious version of the Shroud of Turin. It was $900.

    We were stopped by the large mixed media color work of Todd Watts at the Zelda Cheatle Gallery, London, England. How did he do that, we wondered? Watts makes his work by layering three negatives printed over each other including black and white silver gelatin prints, which are selinium toned, printed in dye transfer, and then have computer generated plastic stickers which are both photogaphed and then stuck to the edges of handsome custom built frames. "Passenger Pigeon" was priced at $12000.

    In a more traditional vein, we admired the work of Leland Rice at Stephen Daiter Photography, Chicago, IL, particularly some 16" x 20" black and white prints of ordinary, rather rattty, stuffed chairs and one divan captured in a beautiful light in situations and compositions that gave these chairs personalities and wide meanings far beyond their common "chairness." Created in 1972, they were $2300 each.

    The quiet, elegent landscapes of Michael Kenna were nearly ubiquitous and perhaps at risk of overexposure. We were intrigued by two at the Halsted Gallery, Birmingham, MI: "Daybreak France, 1993, Ed. #38/45 for $4000, and a similar sized but differently priced, "Consious Horses, Study #2, 1995, Ed. #5/45 for $800.

    We bumped into Howard Greenberg of the Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY and were as usual in awe of everything in his collection of vintage prints, but then we are biased. With no idea if it was a good price or not, we decided that if we had $2800 in our pockets we would not have hesitated to scoop up Roman Vishniac’s "Students of the Talmud," or one of Harry Callahan’s eloquent 4" x 5" series called "Detroit." For different reasons we were also drawn to Alfred Esenstaedt’s picture of Winston Churchill flashing the victory sign at the Life Gallery of Photography, but the $5,300 price tag was again not in our budget. Similarly, Josef Koudelka’s famous "France" 1987, a 50" x 60" enigmatic silhouette of a dog in the snow shown at the Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco, was $4000.

    At the Scott Nichols Gallery we found the work of Becky Cohen. She showed black and white photographs of cone shaped bushes in landscapes and one intriguing, if over long-titled, picture of a tree that had been strangely cut into a rectangle at its’ top. It was titled "Squared-out Allee in Winter Near the Entrance to the Chateaux at Parc du Sceaux. 1993/97, 3/25." The 8" x 10" image sold for $400.

    Houk Friedman, NY, always has something interesting and we were not disappointed in the work of Yale graduate, Andrea Modica. She showed images of an overweight child from a poor family living in upstate New York. The 8 x 10 format work reminded us a little of Sally Mann, and also of some of Patt Blue’s early work called "The Cleveland Family." Modica’s recently published book Treadwell, NY, was on display with several prints. One evocative black and white portrait of a young girl entitled "Jenny" was priced at $1000 for #’s 1 - 10, $1500 for #’s 10 - 13, and $2000 for #’s 15 - 20.

    We know you’ve seen it a million times now, but Abelardo Morell’s 30" x 46", "Camera Obscura Image of Manhattan View Looking West in Empty Room, 1996" at the Bonnie Benrubi Gallery is always a stunner. It was being offered for $4000.

    And finally, at Banning & Associates, LTD., NY, we could not pass by (though we wanted to)  Sophy Rickett’s provocative photographs of dressed for business women pissing standing up against what appeared to be London landmarks ("important male power structures") and a bridge. How does she do that? we wondered. In the accompanying literature we read that Ricketts was making a feminist statement having something to do with women having equal rights with men. But the pictures brought another matter to mind which the photographer did not seem to address. What about public pissing by anybody? (Ok, so mostly men do it.) Although opinions on the practice vary, we’re against it, for men or women. Nevertheless, Rickett’s pictures were hard to ignore, and that made them worth looking at.

    We’re sorry that this can be only a small sampling of the scores of wonderful images we found at AIPAD. Would that there were room to mention everything! Many galleries had unusual, interesting and noteworthy work and the show offered something for almost everyone.

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