Galleries: The solitary, in color and black-and-white

"Someone Knows" (2006/2012), archival pigment print, at Gallery 339 through May 5.
"Someone Knows" (2006/2012), archival pigment print, at Gallery 339 through May 5. (Nadine Rovner's photograph)
Posted: March 25, 2012

At first glance, the staged color photographs of Nadine Rovner and the candid black-and-white ones of Yuichi Hibi, on view in two solo shows at Gallery 339, would seem to have little in common. But a longer look reveals both photographers as exceptionally attuned to the poetry of solitariness.

Rovner's pictures of solitary young women in poses suggesting indecision, reflection, and longing are reminiscent of films from the 1950s and '60s that caught the confusion and frustrations of the era's middle-class teenagers so memorably. Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause, from 1955, and Elia Kazan's 1961 Splendor in the Grass come to mind immediately. The soft, moody lighting of Rovner's subjects in ordinary, 1960s-era houses and diners in New Jersey heightens her photographs' resemblance to vintage film stills.

Take away the American sets and clothing, though, and it's obvious that Rovner has looked carefully at Vermeer's paintings of young women, such as Girl With a Pearl Earring.

Best known for his photographs of penumbral, evanescent street scenes in New York and Japan shot with a 35-millimeter camera, Hibi photographed this group of portraits of New Yorkers in the mid-1990s using a Sawyer's Mark IV, a Japanese twin-lens reflex camera from the 1950s.

Nothing is obscured, shadowy, or fleeting in these small, square, rather formal images of people he encountered on walks through the city.

Most of his subjects look like hardbitten survivors of the street, but all project a sense of self-composure, from the natty white-suited man in Carlton to the prim, annoyed-looking woman seated on a park bench in Mrs. W.S.P. Diane Arbus comes to mind here and there, but especially in Hibi's Anonymous Couple, of two curious-looking men on a bench, and in his two portraits of twins, Marcia and Tricia and Robert and Anthony. These three twosomes exude a solidarity with solitariness.


Gallery 339, 339 S. 21st St., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. 215-735-2839 or www.gallery339.com. Through May 5.

All-consuming

Don't be put off by the construction on West Girard Avenue. The Slingluff Gallery is open and Michelle Muzyka's all-white cut-paper installation, "Efflorescence," will erase all thoughts of dirt and the ever-invasive urban environment. Well, sort of.

It turns out that the pretty, lacy pieces hanging throughout the gallery - some wrapped like garlands around water pipes, even - were inspired by the ways in which fungi and mold proliferate and eventually gobble up their hosts for nutrition.

The star of Muzyka's show is her meticulously constructed cut-paper replica of a gramophone whose horn is emitting a trail of white paper "mold." It's the sound of mold music, of course.


Slingluff Gallery, 11 W. Girard Ave., noon to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. 215-307-1550 or www.slingluffgallery.com. Through April 1.

Klineworld

In his second one-person show at Rebekah Templeton, titled "Celestial Subterrane," and composed of individual sculptures that could pass for one all-encompassing installation, Tyler Kline, a transplanted Georgian, uses his imagination as children, visionary Southern artist/vagabonds, and everyday eccentrics have been wont to do, envisioning the child's tin-can phone of yore as a conduit to other worlds.

Kline's connections come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Halogen lights, whirring machines, and odd handmade tripods are linked by electrical cords and spray-painted passages on the walls. The walls also serve as screens for the dark shadows cast by Kline's tripods, which loom menacingly on the walls like oil derricks in a desolate Gulf Coast landscape. Up near the ceiling, a dead tree is caught in a ball of green plastic fencing.

Ask to see Kline's woodcuts on mulberry paper and linocut on paper in the gallery's flat files. His portrait of George Ohr, Mad Potter of Biloxi, expresses Kline's affection for Southern eccentricity to a T.


Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art, 173 W. Girard Ave., noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. 267-519-3884 or www.rebekahtempleton.com. Through April 21.

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