Review- Group Show, Kish Gallery, Slayton House, Wilde Lake

February 26, 2014  •  4 Comments

A group show with two themes -

"Honoring Women of the World: Commemorating International Women's Day"- work of Ann von Lossberg

"The Natural World" work of Marie McGing and John Hossli

In an article, A. D. Coleman, the first photo critic for the New York Times, mentioned that sometimes he finds, in some critical discussions, that he never even talked about the pictures themselves. That's not me.  I try to be tabula rasa when I see a show. I'm not a critic, talking about people's concepts and inspirations. I respond to what I see, to how well the photographer has pursued their concept and shown it in the frame.

The Kish Gallery, a part of Slayton House in Wilde Lake, Columbia  is quite a lovely space; there are two rooms, an outer room with abundant natural and artificial light that gets good traffic as people pass into an auditorium space and an inner room which gets less traffic and natural light but is very nicely lit. #HoCoArts

Marie McGing is an active local artist, exhibiting locally and doing both portrait and nature photography.( (Ms McGing did not supply an artist's statement)

Monks Her work as displayed here as part of 'The Natural World' shows a good eye for composition and the resulting images are quiet, peaceful images, often focused on single plants or blooms and directed at those who do love the unsullied views of nature. In my opinion her most successful piece is this landscape entitled 'Early Fall Morning.'

In this very nice image, the unhurried horizontal lines of the harvested field in the foreground merge easily into the almost bare trees that are themselves, silhouetted against a quiet, peaceful sky – all in soft autumn tones.

Where Ms McGing's work falls short for me quite often in other pieces displayed is the lack of crispiness and clarity where it would be welcome. Few of her pictures have the sharpness of detail and clear tones that allow me as a viewer to suspend disbelief and look through the window of the frame into another world.

John Hossli is the second artist displaying work as part of 'The Natural World' theme.

In his artist statement he says: "A well made image can convey the fragile beauty of nature that we all should strive to preserve for future generations." Mr. Hossli shows an awareness of beauty and a fine sense of composition that is supported by excellent management of the technical elements.

He has a background in these technical aspects of finishing and printing and this experience shows. The issues of detail, color, clarity, sharpness which, like service in a fine restaurant , are important only if they interfere with appreciation of the real issue, do not fail him and his images are not only beautifully composed and caught but beautifully executed on the paper.

My favorite was the picture entitled 'Two Feathers'; the eponymous feathers and their reflection are perfectly framed against the still, varicolored water – each part perfectly captured and in balance. The picture is particularly striking because the viewer knows that this still balance is a temporary thing yet before the next moment brings destruction, the instant is caught.

Anna von Lossberg is a very active local writer and photographer. ( Her statement about this exhibit, which celebrates International Women’s Day, includes the following about her artistic intent: " My photography became a natural byproduct of my journeys. This exhibit represents the marriage of my past professional life and present creative pursuits and interests."

My reaction to the work displayed by Ann von Lossberg, needs to be preceded by a little explication - and my opinion.

Any image we see is managed first by our eyes. They refocus to bridge the distance to the centers of interest, the iris expands to allow us see into shadows and then contracts to manage the highlights. Our brain unconsciously ignores things that don't matter to us and emphasizes the color and visibility of items that do. But, when we take a picture with the camera, the sensor of the camera just records what is there, without comment, without any of the 'editorializing' that our senses do to make a scene look better to us – the so-called 'mind's eye.'

As photographers we can anticipate and counteract only some of the captured negative characteristics by changing the initial camera settings but, much of the time, we must correct the shortcomings of the digital negative, doing with a computer what earlier photographers did in the lab or the darkroom to film.

The role of computer post-processing is to correct the shortcomings of an inanimate camera sensor, to make the image that the sensor captured look like what the artist originally saw in his or her mind's eye. Virtually every digital image can be improved with some amount of post-processing treatment and the better the artist at seeing and correcting the shortcomings in the image coming from the camera, the better the final image.

Anna von Lossberg has a very ambitious exhibit, collating images taken in various situations and conditions to meld a coherent impression.  She has a good to excellent eye for composition and the content of her images is attractive and interesting, documenting without being specifically polemical about the topic. Looked at from a distance or in a small reproduction on a screen the images can be impressive.

Looking at framed prints at arm's length, where pictures of this size are made to be viewed, all of the defects that interfere with enjoyment  and that could have been corrected are evident. The images have not been 'finished' well. There have been few of the adjustments that remove the inadequacies of the original photographs to make them the terrific images, they might have been.

And there's the pain of it. I look at an image like 'the 'Tibetan Woman and Child', and others, up close and see how wonderful some could have been and how disappointingly they fall flat because of a lack of care.

There is, perhaps, the raw material for good photographs but, as they are now, to casual viewers, they are pretty pictures but as art they are half-accomplished.



The Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane, Columbia, Maryland, is pleased to announce a three-person photography exhibit in the galleries for February and March 2014. Ann von Lossberg will exhibit her photographs in the Lobby Gallery, entitled “Honoring Women of the World: In Commemoration of International Women’s Day”. (Note: International Women’s Day is March 8th). Marie McGing and John Hossli will exhibit their photographs in the Bill White Room Gallery, entitled “The Natural World”. The exhibit will run from February 20 – March 29, 2014.




Lew Lorton Photography

Thank you for the inquiry but I don't feel comfortable talking about specific issues in this circumstance.

Bob the Amateur(non-registered)
I'd be interested in knowing what types of adjustments you would recommend for the von Lossberg photo of the Tibetan woman.
Lew Lorton Photography
Ms. Newby,
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.
I hope you get an opportunity to visit the show and, by doing so, support local artists.

Lew Lorton
Caroline Newby(non-registered)
To these fine photographers - criticism is the tool we use for advancement; to achieve the perfection we desire. Criticism is crucial to achieve the review that will set our dreams soaring to heights we could only imagine. Keep up the good work.
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