Still life and
The work of Jane Myers is up-elose and personal. Susanna Beaumont reports on the first British showing of photographs by this American
Jane Myers has a sure-handed and touchineg raunchy way with words. ‘It was while sitting on a bus.' she declares. ‘that I decided I wanted to find something in rrry adult life besides sex which I could like as much as basketball when I was eight.’
Firing this top-ranking quotable line while in the final throws of installing her exhibition at Glasgow's I8 King Street Gallery. Myers knows she has found her own grown-up‘s version of basketball — photography. Like many a good thing. it was elusive and didn‘t corrre easy. ‘But once I fortned the question. I fotrnd it.‘ says Myers of her meeting with
Born in Ohio into a deep rural setting where arty inclinations were sniffed at along with any sexuality that wasn‘t straight down the line. Myers (who is gay) qrrit the Midwest at 22 to travel. It was not until
Reflected glory: Self-Portrait In flew York City she was 37 that. using a borrowed camera. she began taking photographs. Now 5 l. she is passionately
Between a take-out cappuccino and an on-going battle to decode a digitally locked suitcase. Myers talks photography. She announces in her artistic statement that. ‘It is nearly impossible for me to lit. speak of my work . . . of what I am doing or intend to do'. Yet her work. unlike her suitcase. needs no decoding. It is matter-of-fact photography: clear. precise and at times emotive and moving. ()n the walls are photographs of fruit. doorways and walls from around the world. and a friend dying of cancer.
If there is any thing that charges her work. says Myers. it's colour. ‘I am always drawn to colour - and there's nothing like the colour of an American car that has been left outside.‘ she says. One of her photographs shows a car’s near-carcass. lts rusted. curvaceous engine grill and once-gleaming bumper could be a metaphor of the American dream gotten old. Another image shows a gas station. where a solitary red petrol pump stands on lone duty. like
some weary soldier on sentry duty. A down-at-heel scene. it could be a late 20th century update of the desolate urbanscapes of Edward Hopper.
()ther photographs taken in New Mexico. London. New York and Greece capture doorways and house frontages. ‘I just walk or drive around and photograph what captures my eye.‘ says Myers. Here there‘s a scuffed red doorway where the paint has ﬂaked away. a well-tr'odden doorstep. a candy-floss pink wall. a green gateway. a shuttered-up house. These homes are unpeopled and dormant.
Fruit and vegetables also feature large in the show. Up-close and intimate. Myers photographs a glossy black pepper. a lime with a dirnpled and waxy complexion. a softly downed apricot. a papery- skinned garlic bulb. a bunch of carrots and a darkly- colour‘ed plum. Shot on her kitchen table against black cloth or on black plates. the photographs are shiny and luminous with colour: these are sensual still-life studies. Myers has an eye for the curve of a nectarine or the softness of a pltrrn. sometimes half-
But perhaps the rrrost important and emotive part of the exhibition for Myers is a series of photographs recording the last weeks of her friend. mentor and one-time lover Buffy Dunker. Dying of cancer. Dunker is shown at ease. in grief and in death. Her skin is loose. her eyes tired and her liesh crumpled. The photographs are a devotional-like homage to a life that is soon to expire.
'l have photographed Buffy doing everything. everywhere in the world. but this is more difl'rcult.‘ explains Myers. who was initially hesitant about showing the photographs publicly. ‘lt is a way of bringing the grief out into the open.‘
Jane Myers: I’ltatagi'ap/rs is at [8 K iag Street Gallery: (ilasgarr until Saturday It) August.
[EITHER- Found in Glasgow
It may sound unlikely but 1000 teaspoons convinced Ilicola Atkinson-Griffith that Glasgow, not Los Angeles, was the place to be. Three years after reaching this conclusion, she is co-ordinating PIES - the Pearce Institute Exhibition Spaces - and curating Solo Time, the second of three summer exhibitions in this well-regarded space in Govan. Collectively, these mark the venue’s transition to a more formal exhibition space.
As a practising artist, Atkinson- Griffith’s association with the Pearce Institute dates from 1993 with the showing of her community-based sculptural work. last And Found featured a massive chandelier made of teaspoons collected over ten months when walking from Govan to Springburn. Causing an appreciative stir, this experience convinced her of
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Local matters: Christine McBride’s look at physical space
the potential of Glasgow and the possibilities of the Pearce Institute. ‘The idea behind lost And Found was to create community links by collecting objects which meant many things to different people,’ explains Atkinson-Griffith. ‘I returned to America but within eight months I was back to live. I fell in love with Glasgow. Meeting people through the project was a very tender and wonderful experience which opened my eyes. I got a real sense of how Glasgow worked and also realised that thresholds could be crossed at
the Pearce because of the nature of the building.’
Established in 1906, the Pearce Institute is housed in a large Edwardian building. Reine to numerous organisations including the Iona Community and the Prince’s Trust, it is used by over 5000 people every week for everything from aerobics and lunch to martial arts. Offering three unique spaces, Atkinson-Griffith proposed PIES to director Alan Davidson late last year.
‘In any other building,’ Griftith explains, ‘thls project would not be
possible. But the Pearce is special because the artists already have an audience and they also need to negotiate and interact with the people working here. This is not a traditional white space. The artists have to become part of the building and that’s the challenge.’
Solo Time features the work of three artists: lucy Byatt, Shiona McCubbin and Christina McBride. Bringing a community of artists together in this unique environment, many of Atkinson»Griftlth’s own artistic concerns appear to have been translated into a practical system with potential for further development.
‘lam very interested in organic structures,’ she continues. ‘llopetully every artist involved will learn from previous work [created and exhibited] here, and knowledge of the space will grow - both Its possibilities and limitations. This reflects the Pearce because the needs and demands of a community already determine what happens In this building.’ (Paul Welsh)
Solo Time Is at the Pearce Institute, Glasgow until Set 24 Aug.
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