By MIKE DUNHAM
Despite predictions of snow on Mother’s Day, most of Alaska is happily past winter now. But in case you didn’t get enough of it, a display of photos at Alaska Pacific University’s Leah Peterson Gallery will remind you of what you’re probably not missing.
Joseph Kashi’s exhibit, “Obscured Views,” mainly consists of views shot through misty, frosted windows at Veronica’s Café in Kenai. You make out some items, but much is a blur – an evocative blur, to be sure. The blurb for the show refers to the pictures “ambiguous ambiance.” They also trigger, in me, an urge to snuggle, to wipe off the moisture and peek into the gloom and savor the satisfaction of knowing that I don’t need to go out there right now.
Kashi accompanies the series of untitled photographs with haiku verses that put a verbal focus on the fuzzy images, a nice alternative to wordy artist statements, though this artist has one of those, too.
“During deep winter, harsh weather nreduces outside activity and encourages inner reflection. At such times, we most often perceive the unseen larger environment in which we live through the frequently obscured views out of our windows. Physically, those winter windows frame, and thus constrain, our view of the world, limiting and decontextualizing what we can see, restricting our knowledge of the surrounding environment during that dark, reflective, yet beautiful, season.
“Metaphorically, in the same manner, our inner psychological and intellectual constructs frame and thus restrict what we allow ourselves to perceive, experience, and comprehend during the common-place activities of our daily lives.”
The photos are “literal images,” he says, without photoshopping or collage layers. Yet not so literal “as to dissuade viewers from using such images as a basis for reflecting upon their own experiences and emotions.”
There's a bit of a glare problem caused by how the show was hung,the big natural light windows opposite the wall and the glass used in the picture frames. Try to stop by on a cloudy day.
The newly named Leah Peterson Gallery is in the Carr Gottstein Building. It’s named for the long time Anchorage teacher (she arrived here in 1941 and taught in Karluk on Kodiak Island before that) who died in 2007 at the age of 99. She served on APU’s Board of Trustees and some may recall using her social studies textbook, “This is Alaska,” during their school years.
In the adjacent Grant Hall display area is an exhibit of wildlife, mainly raptors, executed in quilted cloth by Karin Franzen. What’s amazing is that the depictions are realistic until you look close enough to see that an eagle’s body has a pattern on it.
The shows will continue through May 27. APU’s galleries will then be on hiatus for the summer.