Jeanne Scranton got her first camera when she was 8 years old and she’s been taking pictures ever since. However, she did not use a camera at all for her current show. Jeanne has recently discovered a new technique that is fascinating her — scanner photography.
Jeanne fitted her flatbed scanner with a box spray painted flat black on the inside. Directly over the center of the scanner glass, she made a small hole in the box and strung 40 lb.-test monofilament fish line. This enables her to suspend any subject matter over the glass without actually touching it.
The result is an image of an everyday object with an otherworldly appearance. The level of detail she is able to achieve and the brilliant color on the black background give the images their unusual appeal. She’s scanned everything from colored rubber bands to flowers and weeds from the garden.
“My small garden was decimated in the process of scanning all the roses and the astroemeria,” she says. “Eventually I ran out of decent and convenient floral material and had to resort to roadside weeds and some generous volunteer material from friends. Personally, I prefer the weeds.”
There are surprises of nature, like the image of a Queen Anne’s Lace flower that includes a little white spider that crawled out and dangled on a thread of silk. Jeanne scanned several images as fast as her machine would allow. “I wanted to get as many images of this as I could. I got lucky! The bright light passing under him and the hum of the scanner had him mesmerized — he was posing perfectly still for me every time.”
I wonder how the spider felt about it. I know it hurts my eyes when I open the scanner cover too soon. But the image is striking.
Jeanne’s work is on exhibit on one side of the Mad River Hospital’s Corridor Gallery. On the other side is the work of Don Mahler. Don is an emeritus professor from HSU who also got interested in photography at a young age. His images explore the use of a solitary figure. In his statement, Don cites polls that show that most people prefer an image with a figure in it. He challenges the viewer “to decide for yourself whether the figures add or subtract or indeed are essential to the completion of the composition.”
One reason a figure in a composition is so attractive is that it gives us something to relate to. The person in the picture may remind us of ourselves or someone we know. It might bring us pleasant memories or may get us thinking about social issues. To put it bluntly, it satisfies our narcissism.
Don’s images show a knack for capturing interesting moments in a stranger’s life, or at least making them look interesting. They bring to mind a term first coined by Baudelaire, who said that “The flâneur is a witness, not a participant; he is in, but not of the place he walks.” A camera gives an artist the unique ability to capture an image quickly and stealthily. A truly candid image was really not possible before photography came about, and when it did, many artists were taken with the effect of the unposed figure. Don uses the camera and his own sense of color and lighting to get the viewer wondering about the people in the scenes.
So there you have the work of two photographers, one who uses the human figure and one devoid of humanity. I can see a place in the world for both approaches. Their work will be on display at Mad River Hospital through the month of November. The Corridor Gallery is just inside the main door and you don’t need to wait until you need lab work or major surgery done to go and see the show.
A bit of news for local art connoisseurs — we may be losing a valued venue. The owners of Gallery Dog have announced that they will no longer be able to keep their doors open.
“Although it has been a great thrill to be owners of such a respected business, this year has also been a very sad one,” say Launa Robinson and Brian Olson. Apparently a series of personal tragedies made it impossible for them to put the amount of dedication into the business that they feel artists deserve. When I spoke to Launa, she emphasized that she and Brian share a deep appreciation for the support shown by the community and the artists during the last year.
While the market does not look promising at this time, they are hoping to sell the business to “someone with the love of art and ambition for a small business [who] will step forward and continue to support the Gallery Dog vision of Art for Everyone and Every Budget.” This may be an opportunity for an individual or perhaps an artists’ co-op in the style of Arcata Artisans. If you’re interested, you can contact Scott Pesch at Coldwell Banker, 442-2222. Even if you can’t take on the ownership, do stop by and say goodbye to this unique establishment.