Taking a left turn from the watercolors, oil paintings and landscapes often featured in the La Jolla Library community room, the latest exhibit looks to create a question of perspective.
The opening reception for “Earth Abstractions” is 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14 at 7555 Draper Ave. It features the photography of five Southern California photographers — Adam Huntington, Lisa Ross, Alexander S. Kunz, Sally Bucko and Tom Lamb.
“This show is going to be abstract,” said curator Patricia Jasper Clark. “It will be pleasing to some people and not to others, because it’s provocative and pushes the envelope a little bit ... but our community has the artistic imagination to appreciate that.”
The photos depict everyday objects and common places, but from a completely different point of view, without scale or horizons; some are from high above, some are way up close.
“The photographs need to have some study or employment of your imagination before you realize what they are,” Clark added. “When you first see them, you have a visceral reaction to them and then you realize they are something not uncommon.”
Noting Lamb’s aerial photos in particular, she said: “They are taken from above of everyday ordinary Earth scenes, like a cornfield, and because it’s so symmetrical and beautiful, you have difficultly discerning what it is. When you scrutinize it, you see it is an ordinary scene, but seen from above, it takes on different distortion and perception.”
Often shooting from a helicopter, Lamb started in his medium following his work at a landscape architecture firm through which the best way to photograph the property was from the air. All of his images are of California sites.
“There would be anomalies I’d see from the air,” Lamb explained. “There is a pattern, design and texture to these things.” For example, one image is an aerial view of the wind turbines at the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm near Palm Springs.
“When you look at the image, you’d swear it was of a quilt. There is this texture and it looks like stitching but it’s the turbines and the shadows,” he said.
Other images are of tracks on a field left by animals, motorcycles and bulldozers.
“One looks like a yellow tablet that was doodled on, but is looking down at a field and the marks were made by motorcycles on the dirt,” Lamb explained. “Another features giant bulldozers moving earth on a large scale, and it looks like a large drawing. A lot of these are like abstract paintings, but they are reality.”
Kunz, offering a more “representational” selection, said he moved to San Diego from Germany in 2010 to photograph landscapes, but does so at the micro-scale.
“I’m fond of the photography field, called intimate landscapes, that focuses on little details. … The shapes, forms, lines and colors that are in these details are very attractive. We can find a spot in a tidepool that is just two feet in size and find a beautiful image in there,” he said.
The images Kunz contributed to the show are of San Diego County, except for one from Death Valley, and all are scenes found in nature.
“I feel a connection to nature and plants,” he explained. “I find a single tree in the morning fog is a very attractive subject. I isolate (these things) and concentrate my attention on something that would otherwise go unnoticed, and I study it with a camera is a way to find some sort of peace and beauty in normal things. I hope that people will see, in these abstracts, all the variety there is and maybe that connects them or renews the connection they have to San Diego.”
Similarly, Lamb said he hopes people “look harder” at the works and focus on the texture and the form rather than the subject.
Admittedly “nervous because this is out-of-the box,” Clark said: “This exhibit allows the viewer to see photography as an abstract art.”
The La Jolla Library has been presenting four art exhibits a year for the past 10 years. The intent is to bring “meaningful exhibitions to the public that are educational and enjoyable, and meet high artistic standards,” Clark said. “That has been our thrust from the get-go. All the work is for sale and the library gets some of the proceeds.”
IF YOU GO: “Earth Abstractions” is on view during library hours if the gallery is not in use through January 2019 at 7555 Draper Ave. Free. (858) 552-1657. lajollalibrary.org