Mixed Media Photographs by Alan Pearlman
FACING OUT: PHOTOGRAPHER ALAN PEARLMAN
Over a recent four- year period, photographer Alan Pearlman built a l ively portfolio of 90 portraits of people who l ive and work in the Santa Fe area. I ncluded are ar re st i ng images of Lily Falk in her Lily of the West dress shop, Navajo jeweler Fritz Casuse in his studio, and nurseryman Bob Pennington in a greenhouse at Agua Fría Nursery. The variety in types of people and occupations, in attitudes — and more to the point, in faces — is remarkable. A selection from the project he calls Santa Fe Faces shows at the New Mexico History Museum’s Mezzanine Gallery. Pearlman and Palace of the Governors photo archivist Daniel Kosharek are present for the opening reception at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 13.
Some of Pearlman’s earliest photography experiences are from his high school years, when he shot sports and other activities with a medium-format press camera for the school newspaper. He went on to work for more than three decades as a clinician, researcher, and educator at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri; today he is a WUSM professor emeritus of neurology and cell biology. His love for photography is propelled by a long interest in the art form’s mysteries: the power of vision and the possible meanings that confront the viewer in each captured image.
He moved to Santa Fe in 2002 and has exhibited at Santa Fe galleries for nearly 10 years. His other strictly New Mexico collection of photos, besides Santa Fe Faces, is Land of Enchantment (shot between 2003 and 2011), which examines and contrasts places of undeveloped beauty and developed landscapes in the state. Two images from this project were selected for inclusion in the 2008-2009 Palace of the Governors exhibition Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe. In the portfolio titled Remains (2004-2007), Pearlman photographed ruins in Versailles, France; Bangkok, Thailand; and Sardis and Perge, Turkey. “Throughout history,” he writes in a statement about that project, “successive empires have thrived and then collapsed, leaving behind the monuments that were meant to convey everlasting power, but instead are testimony to their inherently transient nature.”
For Everything Is Altar, a montage project he worked on in 2005 and 2006, he photographed religious edifices in New Mexico, Missouri, Utah, Turkey, France, Costa Rica, and other locales, then combined each image with another to show the building’s relationship with the community or the landscape, or to emphasize its historical context. In 2010, Pearlman traveled to Cuba and created a group of images devoted to that country. He used 35mm and medium-format film cameras for all of his work until the 2009-2013 Santa Fe Faces portraits, which were captured digitally.
When he’s not out taking pictures, Pearlman volunteers at the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives. In honor of the archives’ ongoing Photo Legacy Project, which is collecting camera works from living photographers, he recently donated almost 200 archival pigment prints to the history museum, including the Santa Fe Faces portraits. The exhibition hangs through Sept. 18 at the museum (113 Lincoln Ave.; 505- 476-5200). Entrance is by museum admission.
Alan Pearlman: Sotantar Khalsa, 2011, photograph