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'Four Paths' photography exhibit delights the senses

| Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010

Works by four Pennsylvania photographers are filling Gallerie Chiz in Shadyside with light, space and air.

Corey Armpriester, John Warren Davis, Fred Geiger and Brian Sesack each contribute a unique element to "Four Photographers: Four Paths Revealed," making for an exhibit that delights the eye and calls on the senses.

For example, Geiger's landscape photographs give one the feeling of being there, as if you can smell the fall foliage on a tree-lined path or feel the dew on a forest floor.

With its perfectly placed conifers, "Satori" is just such an image, giving one the sense of a complete, enveloping environment.

"Being primarily of German heritage, I am, by nature, a forest dweller," Geiger says. "This perfect pine forest, undisturbed by the modern world, simply says home to me."

But for Geiger the forest in this photograph contains more than just one metaphor. Pointing to a fallen deciduous tree in the middle of the pine forest, he says. "The log across the path is a reminder to me of the barriers in my life that have stopped, delayed or detoured me in my journey to be different, to stand out in a homogenized world."

"To me this image says 'be' -- a place where I can realize that, like the Enchanted Forest, 'I Am.' "

That image was taken in New Jersey in the Rancocas Forest. However, Geiger is currently working on a book that will feature local landscapes.

One of them -- "Path To Eternity" -- is on display here. For Geiger, it, too, is imbued with personal meaning.

"While driving in Western Pennsylvania on a perfect fall day, we stopped to photograph horses that were grazing in the afternoon light," he recalls. "As I got out of the car, however, I saw this path in the late afternoon sun."

Though it appears as if there is only one, Geiger says there actually are three paths in this image. But he chose to focus on one, and in that found meaning. "For most of my life, I tended to blindly follow the main path only to discover I needed to double back and head down one of the other, lesser-traveled paths."

Like Geiger, Sesack also chooses to focus his lens on landscape, but with a different twist. His intent is to not only provide a vehicle for creative self-expression but to concentrate on the transformation from looking to seeing. "As a result, I work from the inside out," he says. "I find myself moved by concepts that I cannot explain, but that I need to interpret by documenting textures and tonal qualities in an attempt to create images that bring the viewer into the subject."

For example, with "Awakening," a photograph taken early one morning in the fall of 2005 during a camping trip through Canyonlands National Park in Utah, Sesack captured the early morning mist dramatically rising on a mountain ridge behind a lone pine.

"When I photographed this image, there were several other photographers waiting for the sun to rise and provide illumination on a specific arch, " he says. Choosing instead to focus on the background instead of the foreground, he says, "I have found that when you turn your back to what everyone else is looking at, then maybe you'll see the magic or the beauty that no one else sees."

Davis on the other hand has been immersing himself in a landscape of a different kind, specifically North Park.

"My intent was to take a place that is familiar to me and look behind the curtain to find what patterns and energy is left behind," he says. Thus the photographs by Davis on display here focus solely on the traffic patterns he has observed in the park over the past two years.

"The traffic moving through the park leaves behind noise, odors and, surprisingly, light," he says, which is why images like "Headlights 9537" and "Headlights 8865" display the wispy trail of tail lights as they move through the park at night.

"These are from a series I call 'After-Images,' " Davis says. "This series is part of an ongoing study of the hidden life of North Park, a place I have been photographing for the past 10 years."

Finally, Corey Armpriester rounds out the show with several photographs from his "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" series, which combines floral still-lifes with acupuncture needles. As in "Champagne," which features a starkly lit Bird of Paradise flower covered in needles.

"These photographs are named after people that have made an impression on my life, they are a part of the meditation in this work," says Armpriester, who sees the flower as a symbol for "perfect compression (and) nesting."

Armpriester says that working with the materials -- flowers, acupuncture needles and layered light -- the handling of these materials would often create a trance state during which time he felt like a "scientist or Voodoo priest."

"The light became a type of water for the flowers, encouraging me to meet the intimacy required in order to photograph the constant state of change," he says. "These portraits are my contribution to the celebration of perfect compression, an everlasting life."

Additional Information:

'Four Photographers: Four Paths Revealed'

What: Photographs by Corey Armpriester, John Warren Davis, Fred Geiger and Brian Sesack.

When: Through Aug. 28. Hours: 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays

Admission: Free

Where: Gallerie Chiz, 5831 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside

Details: 412-441-6005 or website

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