Part of what I like about Cameron Martin’s new series of paintings

Part of what I like about Cameron Martin’s new series of paintings is that they really can’t be photographed or reproduced, especially on the newsprint you’re reading. Our printer couldn’t possibly duplicate their delicate grayscale gradations and low-contrast tones. Raised in Seattle and based in Brooklyn, Martin is dealing with familiar notions of landscape here—snowy peaks that could be the Cascades, a forest glade that could be the Issaquah Alps, a gnarled stump possibly from the Olympic Peninsula, and what looks to be a Columbia River vista. Or not. Martin bases these paintings on photos taken in any number of locales, with some source elements digitally collaged together. His large images have the visual aspect of a silkscreen print, Wall Street Journal hedcut illustration, or halftone reproduction. There’s a faded, photorealistic quality to these scenes, some of which are reframed or sectioned within the picture frame—almost like a misregistered film strip. First by removing the colors, then by reducing the source images to ghostly remnants, Martin creates subtle approximations of the natural world: not quite abstract, not quite credibly real. The effect is like staring at a film negative in the darkroom or an overexposed print—too much or too little light makes the familiar strange to us; all the recognizable textures are gone. By overlaying faint grids and stripes on some scenes, Martin further distances them from nature. They’re gently eroded by artifice. James Harris Gallery, 604 Second Ave., 903-6220, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed.–Sat. Ends Dec. 17.