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Block Exhibitions, Benefit Auction, Programs Focus on Photography

August 15, 2006

By Burke Patten

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University's Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art will expose its visitors to photography this fall, offering four exhibitions and a series of programs, including a benefit auction Sept. 21, devoted to and inspired by the medium.

“Keeping Shadows: Photography at the Worcester Art Museum” (Sept. 22 to Dec. 10) in the Museum's Main Gallery (40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston Campus), surveys the history of photography as both an art form and documentary medium. Organized by the Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts, the exhibition contains images spanning more than 150 years, from 19th-century daguerreotypes to digital images from NASA space probes and features work by such master photographers as Ansel Adams, Robert Mapplethorpe, Man Ray, Cindy Sherman, and Alfred Stieglitz.

Organized by the Block Museum to complement “Keeping Shadows,” the exhibition “Torkel Korling: Bridging Commercial and Art Photography” (Sept. 22 to Dec. 10) in the Print, Drawing, and Photography Study Center offers a selection of work from the 1920s to the 1940s by the Swedish American commercial photographer whose unique skill in controlling focus, composition, and lighting made him one of the top professionals of his day. Korling, who worked out of Chicago, was responsible for the first photographic image used for an automobile advertisement and landmark photographs for Life magazine, which will be on display in this exhibition.

The principles of photography inform a site-specific installation by Chicago-area artist Matthew Girson, a professor of art at DePaul University who has exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center and Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago. “. . . even in a room full of darkness” in the Ellen Philips Katz and Howard C. Katz Gallery (Oct. 10 to Dec.10) invites viewers to step inside a room-size pinhole camera and experience the physical and symbolic properties of light and shadow.

The “realism” of photography inspires the artists represented in “Realist Tendencies on Paper” (Oct. 10 to Dec. 17), an exhibition of watercolors, drawings, and prints in the Alsdorf Gallery drawn primarily from the Block's collection. This survey of photorealist work explores the artists' technical prowess, their use of the camera as a tool and guide, and their frequent depictions of everyday scenes. John Baeder, Robert Cottingham, Ralph Goings, John Salt, and Kathryn Siegler are just a few of the artists represented in this exhibition.

The Block has developed a series of programs to enrich this exploration of photography, beginning with a benefit auction from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21. This year's “auctionBLOCK” includes live and silent auctions of original photography by Alan Cohen, Barbara Crane, Jeanne Dunning, Laura Letinsky, David Levinthal, Luis González Palma, Tony Tasset, and others, conducted by Sotheby's.

“This event benefits both the Block Museum and its supporters,” said David Alan Robertson, the Block's Ellen Philips Katz Director. “Attendees will have the chance to acquire original works by renowned photographers, who are in turn donating photographs to the Museum 's permanent collection. In addition, proceeds from 'auctionBLOCK' will go toward further expanding the Block's photography collection.”

The cost for “auctionBLOCK” is $125 per person and includes a buffet supper and beverages. Reservations can be made by calling (847) 491-7540.

The following programs will also take place at the Block Museum this fall. Unless noted, they are free of charge.

“Keeping Shadows” organizer David Acton, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs at the Worcester Art Museum, and noted Chicago photographer Barbara Crane will explore the “Keeping Shadows” exhibition during a gallery talk at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11.

Participants will learn focus, composition, and lighting techniques while experimenting with different photographic styles in the Adult Studio Workshop “Inspirations from the Master Photographers” from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12, 19 and 26, and Nov. 2 and 9. The workshop is taught by award-winning photographer Linda Oyama Bryan. A 35mm film or digital camera is required. The cost is $75 for Block Museum members; $90 for nonmembers. Call (847) 491-4852 to make reservations.

Matthew Girson will explain the principles and philosophy behind his installation “. . . even in a room full of darkness” during the artist talk “Illuminating the Darkness” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25.

Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari, a Fulbright Scholar from the Muslim World at Northwestern University, will discuss historic and contemporary photography from the Middle East and North Africa during “Photography and the Arab Image Foundation” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8.

In the Block's Family Program “Pinhole Photography” artists Matthew Girson and Shane Huffman will guide families through the creation of their own pinhole cameras from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19. The program is free for Block Museum members; $5 per family for nonmembers. Call (847) 491-4852 for reservations.

For more information on the Block's fall exhibitions and programs, visit www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu. or call (847) 491-4000.

Topics: Campus Life