Mixed Me­dia Pho­to­graphs by Alan Pearl­man

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - — Paul Wei­de­man


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

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