Volume 16 • Issue 52 | May 21 - 27, 2004

Photography


“Space Between”
Photogravure exhibit by Battery Park City
resident Michael Myers
Kristen Frederickson Contemporary Art
148 Reade St., 212-566-7787
Opening reception, Thurs., May 27, 6-8 pm
Exhibit runs through June 26


In with the old

Battery Park City parent and fashion photographer revivifies rare form

By Aileen Torres

Downtown Express photo by Aaron M. Cohen

Photogravure of the Chrysler Building by Michael Myers.

Photogravure is now a rare art form, but Michael Myers, who makes his living as a fashion and beauty photographer, is working to revivify it with his first show, “Space Between.” The exhibit will debut on May 27 and run through June 26 at Kristen Frederickson Contemporary Art on Reade St.

Myer’s work will occupy the “Project Room” in the gallery’s basement, the space designated primarily for experimental work by emerging artists.

The gallery owner, Kristen Frederickson, said that she has never shown a photography exhibit, but after seeing Myers’ work, she decided to reconsider. While the gallery tends to showcase conceptual art, Frederickson made an exception for Myers because she was “struck by the beauty of his photography. The most important thing to me is that art is really lovingly and finely made. I can’t stand sloppy work.”

Myers’ work is anything but sloppy. His photogravures, set to be 31 by 37 inches in size, demonstrate a personal attention to detail with regard to the fundamental artistic elements of line, form, color, and contrast.

The photos that are the basis of the photogravures cover a historic span of many years, during which Myers, who grew up in Georgia and speaks with a slight Southern accent, constantly took photos for his personal pleasure while working as a freelance photographer in the fashion industry.

“I traveled with work, with fashion, so it’s just different times, different jobs, different things,” he said, referring to the subjects of his photogravures. “I’ve always just taken pictures for myself. I’ve never thought: I’m going to have a show one day. They were for me.”

The images are variations of landscapes, with one set of urban and another of desert scenes. On the wall behind his living room couch, Myers has displayed several of his New-York-based photogravures, two of which are of the Chrysler building. Along the bottom row of images, there are three Polaroid-based shots of the apartment building where Myers and his wife, Erin, used to live.

“We moved to 60th St. on a corner apartment 30 floors up, and it was the first time I felt like I lived in the city since I moved to New York. So, one night, I stood there and photographed it,” said Myers.

He also has a few of his desert-centered photogravures displayed in the entrance hall and master bedroom. They were taken while he was working on location in California, Wyoming and Arizona.

In a way, the black-and-white and sepia-toned images that will compose Myers’ exhibit are a photographic history of his life.

“Most of my work is about [being] around something a long time — I kind of have watched it, seen it through different days, different weather, different things. Or, like the Chrysler building, just from art history, being into architecture.”

Michael Myers, with his wife, Erin, in front of Kristen Frederickson Contemporary Art on Reade St.

He said, however, that the landscape itself, whether natural or urban, is not what he focuses on mentally or aesthetically when he sees, captures and molds an image.

“What’s consistent through the images are the clouds,” Myers said. “As a child, I watched clouds a lot, found shapes in them. I was always intrigued. I used to fly from Atlanta to California to visit my mother and always watched the clouds when I was flying.” They became “a comfortable space” for him, he said.

Clouds often invoke an atmosphere of reverie, but Myers’ photogravures are not characterized by a dream-like quality.

“Everything — all my pictures — I like to bring them to a monument status. I like to make them iconic,” he said.

Technically, creating the photogravures is an arduous process requiring a meticulousness that commercial photography does not.

“It’s a lost art,” said Myers of photogravure, whose representative masters are the photographers Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen. According to Myers, photogravure begins with an image that gets printed onto gelatin, and then onto copper. An acid is used to etch the image onto a plate, which is then covered with ink for the artist to work with as he pleases to achieve desired contrasts in color and tone.

“This show is really a challenge and an opportunity for us because it’s a new medium and it’s representational,” said Frederickson. Myers’ opening will also coincide almost exactly with the two-year anniversary of the gallery, “so it will be more of a party,” said Frederickson, who is a good friend of Myers’ wife, Erin.

Frederickson and Erin became friends through their children. Frederickson has a daughter who is 7-years-old, and the Myers have two sons, 6 and 8 years-old. Erin began working at the gallery in September 2003, at the request of Frederickson. Erin is now the director of the gallery.

Frederickson has lived in Tribeca — a block away from her gallery — since 1998. The Myers have resided in the area since 1999.

“This area has a really strong community of families,” said Myers, who lives with his family in north Battery Park City. “It seems that everybody supports each other. It’s a really special place to live.” Fortunately, for him, there need not be a space between his work, his family and his creative passion.



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