By John Chambless
The theme of the “Old School” Photography Show at the Oxford Arts Alliance is reflected in images made with vintage processes of which mimic the look of antique photos.
It's an interesting idea that pays off with several strong pieces, including two by John Parsons that are displayed in large daguerreotype cases. Produced with the very old wet collodion process, the images are contemporary, but have the mirror-like sheen of 1800s photos. “Monk” is an arresting portrait of a shrouded man with a piercing gaze, and “Howdy Doody” is an ominous still life of a battered doll and some egg-shapred objects (children's chalk, perhaps?) against a black background.
Anita Bower's three portraits of her husband explore a range of vintage looks, but it's the identical gaze of the subject that's the most arresting part. His placid expression doesn't change at all, making you wonder what's behind the eerie similarity.
“Second Nature,” one of five sepia prints by Dave Renz, has a narrow focus on a wooden
fence, leaving a horse in a pasture just out of focus, and making the fence line intriguingly semi-abstract.
Shawn Kirkpatrick has apparently found a creepy, abandoned barn or home somewhere, and his three large black-and-white images are fine portraits of decay. Stuffed toys look forlorn in the dirt (“Horse” and “Bear”), and the partially collapsed ceiling in “Strikes of Light” is a great textural study.
Jennifer Zduniak shows four respectful images of Amish children and farms. Her “Clothesline” makes nice use of tinting, and “Sleigh Ride” has an interesting range of faces.
Ed Coburn shows three heavily manipulated black-and-white images that have textures more like charcoal drawings. One, “Within the Home,” takes a sharper focus and captures a sink full of dishes and utensils.
Richard Dunham's “Agave” and “Old Tools” are beautifully printed closeups in which every detail is just right, and “57 Cadillac” by Felicia Renz has a pleasant light and a strong composition.
The “Old School” Photography Show continues through March 28 at the Oxford Arts Alliance (38 S. Third St., Oxford). Visit www.oxfordart.org for more information.