Land Re-Form: Michael Berman, Mark Klett, Frank Gohlke and Mike Mulno
January 14, 2020 – March 14, 2020
Opening Reception: 7-10pm, Saturday, January 18
Etherton Gallery kicks off 2020 with a new exhibition, Land Re-Form, which brings together for the first time, the work of photographers Frank Gohlke, Mark Klett, and Michael Berman. These photographers investigate the fluid and changing dynamics of the relationship between humans and the natural world by photographing the landscape. The story of the human presence and impact on the land, narrated by Gohlke’s photographs of Mount St. Helens, Klett’s images of the Southwest, and Berman’s gridded images of the Sierra San Luis, remind us that, “Landscapes tell stories, if we know how to listen.” Photographs by Michael Mulno from his series Residential Variations will be on display in the gallery pop-up. Land Re-Form opens with a reception and book signing, 7-10pm, Saturday, January 18, 2020, and runs through March 14, 2020. A limited number of books by all the photographers will be available for sale. All are expected to attend the opening reception.
As Frank Gohlke wrote in Thoughts on Landscape, “I am most touched by those places where damage and grace are entangled.” Such a place was Mount St. Helens, Washington. Land Re-Form commemorates the 40th anniversary of the 1980 Mount St. Helens earthquake and the photographs that Gohlke made during his extended investigation in the decade of its aftermath. Gohlke visited the volcano by foot and by air five times over this period: 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1990. One of his discoveries was that long-term logging had done as much if not more damage to the environment than the quake. In spare, elegiac images, such as Looking SW across Blowdown, toward Valley of the South Toutle River, 8 miles NW, 1983, Gohlke’s focus on ordinary, specific details made an unfathomable event accessible and understandable, in a way that globally circulated images of the violent destruction wrought by the volcano could not. Frank Gohlke’s work is courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery and Gallery Luisotti.
Land Re-Form also features photographs by Mark Klett from his series Revealing Territory, made between the 1982 and 1992. Klett photographed throughout the Southwest including Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada. In images that range from the sublime, such as Contemplating the View at Muley Point, Utah, 5/13/94 to the seemingly mundane, Klett seeks “evidence of change — of chaos in the landscape, rather than a unifying order.
To do this he focuses on visual elements one usually overlooks — such as the patterned randomness of gunshots, tire tracks of off-road vehicles or the plywood teepees of a tourist attraction. In his own word, “… what I wish my pictures could do is lessen the distance one often feels when looking at landscape photographs…The longer I work, the more important it is to me to make photographs that tell my story as a participant, and not just an observer of the land.”3 Also on view — the complete series of Birthday Portraits. Mark Klett and his daughter Lena share the same birthday. Every year on that day, since Lena was a baby, Klett has made a portrait of the two of them. The series demonstrates subtle and not so subtle shifts in the relationship between father and daughter as each grows older. Mark Klett considers the Birthday Portraits the result of a collaborative process, and sought Lena’s permission before exhibiting the work.
Land Re-Form includes work by Michael P. Berman from his new series, Perdido, which took him to the Sierra San Luis. The Sierra San Luis forms the nexus of the Sierra Madres and the Rocky Mountains, and its inhabitants include ranchers, wildlife and narcos. In gridded photographs like Perdido, 2019, Berman captures the social, political and biological complexity and the fluid, delicate balance within these relationships. As he notes, the ecological systems on the planet are failing, yet in the Sierra San Luis the collapse has reversed itself—water, soil, and ecological diversity are all increasing in quantity and improving in quality. Why here and nowhere else? In the both Berman’s photographs and the text from his new book Perdido: Sierra San Luis, he addresses this question.
In the Etherton Gallery pop-up photographs of the built environment by from the series Residential Variations by Michael Mulno will be on display. Residential Variations depicts a series of homes within a Southern California neighborhood and the changes they have undergone over time.
Etherton Gallery’s show Land Re-Form opens in conjunction with Legacies of Light, a symposium held at the Center for Creative Photography, celebrating the influence of Light Gallery, the first art gallery to specialize in photography and promote it as a fine art. The symposium will honor Harold Jones, the first Director at Light Gallery, and the first Director of the Center for Creative Photography. The symposium runs from January 17-19, 2020.
For information about Legacies of Light, visit the event website: