Friday, February 1, 2008

An Alternative View from the 21st Century

Herbert Ascherman

Digital is a relative newcomer to the world of photography. People love it because the results are immediate. It’s fun to see your pictures right away.

But this instant gratification belies the fact that early photographs required hours if not days of hard and dangerous work, before the final picture could be viewed. For more than 150 years, other techniques evolved at the hands of photographers, chemists, and scientists, crafting the processes that would become today’s modern images.

A dedicated group of very creative people work hard to insure that the old techniques don't die. And under Herb Ascherman's guidance they were brought together for a unique visual effort.

(L to R: Richard Wolf, Charles Caito, Greg Martin, Bruce Gates, Jeannette Palsa, Herb Ascherman, Ryan Durdella, Roy Woda)

These individuals comprise The Cleveland Society of Alternative Photographers . An exhibit of their work is currently on display at The Plain Dealer Gallery, 1801 Superior Avenue. I am not a member of this talented group of Clevelanders but had been invited to photograph the show’s opening.

These are not digital images captured in a matter of seconds. Thousands of hours of meticulous hand crafted work and wet processing technique went into the production of these fine art prints.

Jeannette Palsa

According to the group’s website: “The Society seeks to encourage, enhance and preserve the 19th Century photographic techniques known as The Alternative Processes.

Ryan Durdella

These processes include, but are not limited to: Daguerreotypy, Platinum, Albumen, Collodian, Cyanotype, and Gum Bichromate printing methods among others.”

Greg Martin

Herbert Ascherman is Co-Founder of The Cleveland Society of Alternative Photographers and was responsible for organizing the show. Jeannette Palsa is Co-Founder and Secretary of the organization .

Bruce Gates

I have no qualifications as an art critic and would never attempt to judge this show. But it is enjoyable because of it’s uniqueness. One does not often see works of this nature separately, let alone in a single collection utilizing common technologies from a bygone era.

Charles Caito

Because of the way they were processed, some of the prints take the viewer on a private journey into past eras of stone columns, elegant archways and stately mansions. And even when the subjects are contemporary, the viewer is often presented with delicate and soft images reminiscent of past centuries.

Richard Wolf

The exhibitors include Herb Ascherman, Jeannette Palsa, Charles Caito, Ryan Durdella, Bruce Gates, Roy Woda, Greg Martin and Richard Wolf.

Roy Woda

Herbert Ascherman introduces the show's exhibitors.

Approximately 75 - 100 guests viewed the show which is displayed on two levels of the Plain Dealer atrium. The exhibit continues through February 29, 2008.

Herb with Bill Jean, widely acclaimed artist and one of the PD Gallery's exhibit schedulers.

Herbert Ascherman, Shirley Stineman Director of Community Affairs for the Plain Dealer and Mindy Tousley, gallery scheduler.

A gallery of photographs taken at the show can be viewed by clicking HERE.