CULTURE- ART FEATURE- Snap-a-palooza: The river city's shutterbug showcase


This week in my ongoing search for interesting art in August, I drive south on a sweltering day to view " Stolen Moments III," the Scottsville Council for the Arts' annual exhibition of regional photography. In the deliciously cool interior of Victory Hall, I find over 200 images by 70 photographers– ranging from weekend amateurs to professionals, from grade-schoolers to retirees– hanging in a glorious free-for-all.

Organizers Jennifer Byrne and Peter Delis (who both have compelling work on display) invited anyone with a camera to submit up to three shots for competition in seven categories: architecture, exploratory, micro/macro, nature, landscape, people, and photojournalism. The details were left to the artists– size, presentation, whether to shoot b&w or color, whether to use film or go digital.

The result is a joyous tumult of every kind of picture imaginable. Predictably, there are numerous flower close-ups and plenty of panoramas of misty pastures and golden sunsets, reminiscent of saccharine Windham Hill album covers (there's even a basket of blue-eyed kittens– sure to be popular with your favorite seven-year-old). In addition, Photoshop's siren song appears to have lured many of the photographers into over-tweaking their images with super-saturated colors and needless, distracting effects.

But mixed with these earnest-if-so-so images are some remarkable and surprising photographs. Barney Conrath's three black-and-white images, two entered under "Architecture" and one under "Nature," are particularly noteworthy for their strong compositional sense and tonal range. In "Farm Machine"– imaginatively classified as "Architecture"— Conrath frames an almost abstract arrangement of wheels, gears, and belts against the weathered slats of an old barn. 

Lucia Strini's black-and-white portraits contrasting young women with nature are also striking. Next to Strini's work hangs Jennifer Byrne's atmospheric series of shadowy nudes. In this relentlessly sunny-day show, Byrne's "In the Yellow Room," depicting a woman's body spilling across the floor from a doorway leading to a junk-filled room, is delightfully disturbing (although her aw-shucks artist's statement in the show's catalog is irritatingly disingenuous).

Perhaps my favorite image, though, is Don Whipple's funny and tender "Mom's Head." Shot from above against a black background, an elderly woman's curler-c0vered head fills the frame with wet, thin strands of grey hair wound around dazzling orange, blue, and yellow plastic rods.

These are just a few of the gems waiting for those willing to embrace– and wade through– the overflowing community spirit of photography in Scottsville.

The Scottsville Council for the Arts Annual Photography Show, "Stolen Moments III," is on view through August 25 at Victory Hall in downtown Scottsville. Hours: 1-6pm, Friday; 10am-6pm, Saturday; and noon-5pm, Sunday. 401 Valley St. 434-286-4327.