Enigmatic photographs at Mad Rose Gallery

Michael Lavin Flower with “Victoria,” far left, a nebulous portrait of his stepdaughter as a young child, in his exhibition at Millerton’s Mad Rose Gallery on Friday, Oct. 13. Photo by Deborah Maier

October 18, 2023


MILLERTON —  In Mad Rose Gallery’s spacious main room, Michael Lavin Flower’s mostly black-and-white photographs trace one man’s curiosity about nature and the built world as well as the very processes that transform simple recording of them into individual pieces of art.

The Saturday, Oct. 7, opening of the show, Flower said, drew about 80 attendees; it runs through Sunday, Oct. 29.

Flower, long a commercial photographer and more recently an educator of elementary schoolchildren, explained the crossover and his many aesthetic choices in an artist statement: “Teaching has consistently reminded me,” he wrote, “that there is always a new concept of image waiting to be explored.”

The process of exploring, then manipulating images is basic to his entire oeuvre. The initial attraction is what he termed in a personal interview “ambiance—wind blowing, clouds floating, a shoreline in the distance referenced by the nearby sand dune, a reflection in a piece of glass. It’s all so subjective,” he pointed out. Any two people could be looking at the same thing but seeing it differently.

The constructed images—many of the ones present in the current show—represent for Flower a reinvention of space, where “a small piece of music gets to be more orchestrated.”

In the large-scale “Eliza’s Gift,” a layering of images on glass or plexiglass, overlays and partially reveals the hand and foot of a child seated on an asphalt walkway, working on a chalk drawing. Flower built the sturdy support for the camera and placed it in situ as his stepdaughter drew.

With titles like “Social Distancing Markers Under Ice,” “Untitled (cherub),” and “Basso Profundo,” the mostly abstract chiaroscuro images n Flower’s “Lucid Dreaming” series deliver less, or more, or other than what they suggest.

Of note for the future, Flower is planning a Millerton mural in his own idiom.


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