Photography at the Sheldon (until Jan. 19)

December 11, 2007

As you can see from the topic cloud at right, I love the arts. Although I have little ability in most of the visual or performing arts, I have enough rudimentary knowledge to be very appreciative of those who are blessed with talent. But thanks to my training in photojournalism, I’m extremely interested in anything that involves a still camera, and photography exhibits are guaranteed to draw me in. That means I’m a fairly regular visitor to the Sheldon Art Galleries in Grand Center, one of the city’s best venues for photo shows. And, because the Sheldon has after-school hours most of the week, the kids have attended their fair share of exhibits there too.

The current exhibits are right up my alley: Anthony Hernandez: The Seventies and Eighties documents urban streetscapes and bus stops with images of compelling sadness and loneliness.  (Although the Sheldon has hung plenty of happy photos, I’m always drawn to the black-and-white images that aren’t so happy.  Maybe it goes back to the Depression-era phots we were taught to love in J-school.)  Another current exhibit features a selection of jazz musicians from the local record labelMaxJazz — and if you’ve never heard any of its CDs, you should check out the holiday series.  They’re a great introduction to jazz.

The Sheldon’s upper-floor galleries form a circuit that has both advantages and disadvantages for visiting with kids. The layout of the rooms propel visitors forward, so there’s not much chance of kids wandering out a side door and vanishing into some other exhibit. However, noise is propelled right along with the visitors, so even a small racket crescendos quickly.  The photos tend to be large-format, meaning kids can see from the floor and you won’t have to constantly lift them up or carry them around.  The staff is friendly, and although I’ve never asked, it seems to me that any place that exhibits as much artwork by children and has as many educational opportunities as the Sheldon does must have a philosophy of welcoming youngsters as visitors.

We tend to go in the late-afternoon hours, when we have the galleries mostly to ourselves.  Invariably, I wind up staying later than I intended, so I’ve started treating us to Thai takeout afterward and calling it part of the day’s entertainment.

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