Michael Kenna: New York City and Beyond

The Brooklyn Bridge is every photographer’s invitation to cliché, and Michael Kenna does not escape that trap in his worthwhile exhibition “New York City and Beyond” (on view through Jan. 3). After 150 years, I think we’ve seen enough photos of that structure. But Kenna, born in England, is a global lensman, and these two dozen crisp black-and-white images are culled from more than three decades of travel. He knows how to escape the inevitably photogenic urban grid—on the white dunes of a Hokkaido beach, on stairs wandering through a Chinese fog, in the clouds above Rio de Janeiro. In that latter Brazilian city, he take the familiar icon of Sugar Loaf, erases the city with cloud-puffs, and plants a banking jet on the shoulder of one such cotton ball—like a mechanical weevil or metal insect. The landmark from a thousand postcards becomes new and strange. In his best compositions here—dunes, trees, docks, bridges—Kenna focuses on the abutment between the built and the natural. We see things more clearly in these margins, where human hands have left their first traces—or scars, if you insist. G. Gibson Gallery, 300 S. Washington St., 587-4033, www. ggibsongallery.com. Free. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Dec. 20. Continues through Jan. 3, 2008

 
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