Carnell focuses lens on sites in South

"Nash Parked in Back Yard, Georgia," one of the Jack Carnell photographs on display at Haverford College's Atrium Gallery. Carnell's photos are focused on places and things, not people.
"Nash Parked in Back Yard, Georgia," one of the Jack Carnell photographs on display at Haverford College's Atrium Gallery. Carnell's photos are focused on places and things, not people.
Posted: March 09, 2012

Jack Carnell was practically weaned on color photography, having begun using it as his specialty in graduate school at Temple's Tyler School of Art in 1975, and he now teaches it at Philadelphia University. In his current digital show at Haverford College's Atrium Gallery, "Jack Carnell: Authentic America," subtitled "Color photos from my travels in the South 2000-08," the sharpest impression a viewer receives is that these are photos about places, not people - steeples, ornaments, trees, yards.

Carnell walks a slender line between art and reportage. It has always been color that heightens the tension between the two, and the artful use of color and composition is a major element in this work. The series is a departure for the photographer, known for his people subjects and for being commissioned to photograph the 1984 Olympics.

Carnell, a Glenside resident, professes in this recent work "an almost sibling intimacy" - until now a quality seen (if at all) only in photographer Larry Fink's images of gatherings of people that marked a turning point in his own work, deepening it and bringing out the artist in him.

I believe something similar happened to Carnell as he drove through urban and rural locations in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia, paying attention to storefronts, monuments, and roadside views, focusing on the beautiful, odd, and eccentric. Moving from one county seat to the next, he was engulfed by that feeling of "sibling intimacy" when he photographed the material culture of objects, signs, and buildings to describe communities and their ways of life. He even met a man who'd long ago led Walker Evans to certain locations he wished to photograph.

In his travels, Carnell photographed not a single person, yet he had a valuable growth experience, became a more serious artist, and produced important work, glimpsed in this fine 34-piece show curated by William Earle Williams.


Haverford College's Atrium Gallery, Marshall Fine Arts Center, Haverford. To April 22. Weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends 12 to 5 p.m. 610-896-1267.

Winsome threesome

Three quite dissimilar area artists have gotten together at Rosenfeld Gallery, their large show achieving unforeseen and remarkable harmony. Chris Feiro displays what he can do with arid planar spaces in large oil paintings and drawings that, while not dependent on style, use it with a rare and chilling audacity. His upstairs/downstairs city rowhouse interiors emphasize space delineation and mild domestic luminosity with undramatic intensity.

Laura Pritchard's batiks, in contrast, are free-flowing, whimsical, and don't deny the ambiguous or the strange. The surrealist in her is forever making a rational decision in favor of irrational chance and intuition. Meanwhile, Jimmy Clark's sawdust-fired clay vessels are appealing, nature-inspired, and rotund, some incorporating pieces of broken commercial ceramics, many others showing a sense of immediacy in the way intense splotches of greens, blues, purple, and red collide with one another.


Rosenfeld Gallery, 113 Arch St. To March 24. Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 12 to 5 p.m. 215-922-1376.

Valedictory?

Is the venerable Coryell Gallery at the Porkyard really going to close permanently on March 18? It depends whom you ask. Many artists and others say yes. But Janet Marsh Hunt, its gentle, vivacious, levelheaded director-owner for 31 years, recently contended that such an outcome may be averted. She was standing amid the picturesque New Hope/Lambertville-area landscape scenes in oil and watercolor that dominate Coryell's current 31st Annual Juried Exhibit, cosponsored by the gallery and the Lambertville Historical Society.

The show features work by 69 living area artists chosen from 107 entries by juror Doug Wiltraut, who awarded nine prizes. Besides sculpture and occasional abstract paintings, Hunt over the years has displayed some singular artwork. It has included wood engravings by her late, gifted mother Anne Steele Marsh, niece of leading early-20th-century American artist Reginald Marsh.

Nowadays it's Hunt herself who is wholeheartedly embraced by area artists. She's the "doyenne of the arts" in Lambertville/New Hope, declares painter Richard Lennox of Erwinna.


Coryell Gallery at the Porkyard, 8 Coryell St., Lambertville. To March 18. Wednesday-Sunday 12 to 5 p.m. 609-397-0804.

Diverting dozen

A most welcome squad of talents is exhibiting at New Hope Art Center in the two-tiered show "Continuum," featuring six established area artists and six emerging artists of their choosing in this recently renovated 1850s-era former foundry and soap factory.

Robert Beck, Sandra Flood, Paul Matthews, Alan Goldstein, Pat Martin, and Glen Harrington, diverse as they are in painting styles and viewpoints, have been working together to strengthen the regional cultural scene, and this display is an encouraging example of their civic involvement as professional artists. Newcomers on board are Alex Cohen, Elizabeth Weiler, Nancy Shill, Linda Conklin, Judy Tobie, and Evan Harrington. Several of Cohen's pieces are noteworthy, and Harrington's still lifes are especially striking.


New Hope Arts Center, 2 Stockton St. at Bridge Street, New Hope. To March 18. Friday-Sunday 12 to 5 p.m. 215-862-9606.

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