Pie Projects celebrates the vision of artists Janet Russek and David Scheinbaum, both immersed in the history and practice of lens-based imagery.
Keeping Still Within: Janet Russek & David Scheinbaum
on view through November 26, 2022
Pie Projects, Santa Fe
This exhibition celebrates the vision of two individual artists, Janet Russek and David Scheinbaum, both of whom are immersed in the history and practice of lens-based imagery. They have spent decades of their personal and professional lives in the company of masters, among them Eliot Porter and Beaumont Newhall. Working in the same home locale, Russek and Scheinbaum share meditative artistic practices.
While frequent collaborators on photobook projects, such as Ghost Ranch: Land of Light; Images in the Heavens, Patterns on the Earth: The I Ching, and Remnants: Photographs of The Lower East Side, as artists they walk through separate doors, presenting us with uniquely different visions.
Janet Russek’s Wheelbarrow series: Russek’s work, at its essence, is observational, capturing compositions created by nature in a vessel to mark changes in one’s immediate environment.
The pandemic ritual of Russek’s daily photographs recorded elements that found their way to a stationary wheelbarrow, offering endlessly elegant still-life images blending earth and sky with referential elements of plant and animal life. As the series evolved, Russek thought of her mentor and friend, photographer Eliot Porter, and how through him she learned of James Gleick’s research into Chaos Theory, offering a path to understanding order and behavior in the patterns of nature. In these color photographs, she reduced its random contents to celebrate simplistic elements, mirroring each day with a heartfelt concern for staying connected to the environment.
David Scheinbaum’s Ensō studies: Scheinbaum’s work, at its essence, is performative, created by marks resulting from his intuitive “Enso” gestures utilizing the most minimal of elements: light and photographic chemicals. The word Enso in Japanese refers to a circle that is hand-drawn, usually made in one single brushstroke and one single breath. The Enso circle itself also symbolizes the totality of being and is a direct expression of the moment it is made.
Intentionally disrupting his fifty-year highly technical photographic practice with a desire to move away from discrete subject matter and create predictable variations took Scheinbaum on a two-year study of experimentation on many levels, leading him to the art of Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline. Embracing elements of chance impacted every aspect of creating these photographic drawings. The resulting cameraless images, produced in a traditional darkroom, are rendered by hand-applying a range of photographic chemistry with the stroke of Sumi brushes.
What ties these two bodies of work together is the creative and spiritual environment in which the works were created: under one roof, two uniquely introspective practices.
—Mary Virginia Swanson, author and educator, Tucson, Arizona