Opening Reception: November 7, 7 to 10 pm
On View: November 7 – December 3 2015
Several years ago, whilst living in New York, Ame Curtiss wrote an essay titled The Things I Didn't Photograph. Much of the essay is a reminiscence of her earlier life in San Diego, a darkly funny lamentation for a fractured life, but hopeful around the edges. This is an exhibition of things that Ame Curtiss did photograph. But in many ways it is the pictures she left untaken that give these images their power: a presence that can’t be seen or photographed. Artist Peter Halasz, a long time friend and comrade of Curtiss, curates the exhibition with this in mind.
Though Curtiss grew serious about photography in 2003 while living in San Diego, where she was active in the underground DIY scene, her work gained focus, intent, and recognition after moving to New York in 2006. There she continued her involvement , selling her handmade photo zines at such NY staples as Printed Matter and Dashwood in addition to spots in Los Angeles. Tough and rigorously self-sufficient, she supported herself working restaurant jobs while studying at the International Center of Photography. She earned a Bard-MFA in photography from ICP in June of 2011. Ame Curtiss made a prodigious body of work during her time in New York, and it is from this collection of images primarily, that Halasz makes his selections. Curtiss found “meaning and clarity through doing my work rather than thinking about it.” But the ICP program demanded constant interaction with fellow students as well as established photographers, artists, writers, publishers and curators. While continually making photographs, she began to reflect on, critique, and analyze her photography and her life through writing. Her images and words explored the dynamics of growth and decay, the organic and the artificial, the established and the marginalized. The human perception (and lack of perception) of time is an underlying theme in her work. Humanity’s artificial clock, with its delusional, finite ticking, echoes faintly throughout her images before dissipating in silence. The viewer, the subject, the photograph, and the photographer are vestiges, temporal blips, in the infinite vastness of time.
Ame Curtiss died of breast cancer on June 4th, 2012, one year after receiving her Bard-MFA in photography. She was 37 years old. It is important to stress that the obsessions that drove her photography, and the urgency with which she worked (as if time were always running out) defined her life and creative output long before she was diagnosed with cancer in January of 2011. Her illness brought a depth of expression to her work that only she could fully understand, though we can sense it incompletely when looking at her photographs. The things that fascinated her in the external world were now occurring in her own body, and her images gained an amplified, yet unsentimental poignancy. A haunting, tender whimsy tiptoes through her stark depictions of reality: a hospital room curtain lifted gently by an invisible draft of wind, a twilight cloudscape unyielding above a painted metal wall, a glowing patch of sunlight invading a disintegrating factory.
In July of 2011 Curtiss wrote her final blog post: “From an existential viewpoint, my life has always been a nightmare, a conundrum, a conflicting set of values and realities. The process of realizing ones capabilities, in my case, supersedes my ability to fulfill them. The concentrated desire to think through the metaphorical examples of my own experience that spontaneously come to mind is a recent development. This brings me back to Dostoevsky’s peasant, who is “greedily hoarding impressions, hardly knowing why.” Perhaps he is still standing there, on the side of the road, staring into space. Maybe I’ll join him finally.”
A full color catalogue will accompany the exhibition.
Ame Curtiss survived San Diego’s warehouse party scene of the 90s and began studying photography at San Diego City College in 2003. She started showing her work at indy galleries around town in 2005. In 2006 she moved to New York to study further. She earned a Bard-MFA in photography from ICP in June of 2011. Some of her exhibitions include: Urban Reckoning (Kate Ross San Diego 2006), With or Without Words (Luxe Studio, San Diego 2006) Transition (Space Gallery, San Diego, 2006) and Click (Brooklyn Museum, New York 2008). Her work has been reviewed in CMYK, Abbotoir Magazine, the San Diego Union Tribune and other publications. New York bookstores Printed Matter and Dashwood sold her photo zines.
Based in San Diego, artist Peter Halasz addresses highly evocative subjects such as night landscapes, atmospheric realms and sexualized figures. Drawing from the diverse traditions of Romantic painting, 19th century French Realism, and California Light and Space, Halasz offers contemporary insight to seemingly traditional modes of representation. Recent exhibitions include SILENCE at Quint Contemporary La Jolla 2015, Western lands: Peter Halasz and Anthony Hernandez R.B. Stevenson Gallery La Jolla 2013, GRAM Selects Grand Rapids Museum of Art 2013, Love Songs and Incantations R.B. Stevenson Gallery La Jolla 2012, November's Ghosts Richard Heller Gallery Los Angeles 2009, To Get Her Bill Brady ATM Gallery NYC 2007. His work in painting has been reviewed in such publications as Art Papers, San Diego Union Tribune, Art Ltd. and Riviera Magazine