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Unique perspectives: Photographer captures a different side of daily life in new exhibit

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The VSA North Fourth Art Center Gallery is hosting a graphically stunning photography exhibition titled “Coincidence of Light and Line” by Dan Shaffer through Sept. 17.

“Walkway Shadows” by Dan Shaffer contains zigzag lines reminiscent of zebras or African textile patterns.

Shaffer developed his camera chops traveling on safari with his dad while growing up in Africa.

“Since I was about 8 years old, I always had a camera in my hand,” Shaffer said.

After pursuing a political science degree back in the States, Shaffer made a career in graphic design and advertising sales, all the while shooting pictures during every free moment.

Shaffer’s astounding results grace the walls of the gallery with the kind of architectonic clarity reminiscent of works by painter and printmaker Garo Antreasian or the late photographer, painter and writer Harold Joe Waldrum whose works celebrate geometric abstraction at the highest level.

From pure pattern to landscape and the current construction chaos on Central Avenue, Shaffer uses his camera to apprehend his surroundings from a unique perspective.

“Turquoise Bannister” by Dan Shaffer shares a distant kinship with works by painter and printmaker Garo Antreasian.

In works like “Walkway Shadows,” “Turquoise Bannister” and “Brown Staircase,” Shaffer’s laser-like vision incises sections of sun-painted patterns cast upon otherwise sterile urban architectural elements and brings them back alive like Frank Buck.

Shaffer must have been metaphorically hunting for zebra when he shot “Walkway Shadows” a jaw-dropping riot of zigzag lines that may have been inspired by African textile patterns or the aforementioned animals.

The complex diagonal composition in “Brown Staircase” consists of shadows cast on a concrete stairway by the four-bar handrails. The resulting picture is dazzling and full of energy reminiscent of Ed Ruscha’s “American Standard” painting of a gasoline station.

“Brown Staircase” by Dan Shaffer is part of his “Coincidence of Light and Line” solo photography exhibition at the VSA North Fourth Art Center Gallery.

In “Turquoise Bannister,” Shaffer echoes “La Planete Sauvage” a lithographic print by Garo Antreasian. Though Antreasian’s image is handmade, Shaffer’s camera-wrought pictorial shares a distant kinship in the complexity of pattern and overall design.

Shaffer’s “Brown Staircase” is printed on canvas, which lends it a painterly feeling also found in “Corrugated Shadow,” another print on canvas. If Shaffer does have an inner Waldrum, it jumps to the forefront in “Corrugated Shadow” a beautifully rendered piece of New Mexico architecture featuring an uneven adobe wall onto which is cast the shadow of it’s equally uneven metal roof edge.

The rough-sawn and turquoise-colored wood trim at the bottom of the wall is in such sharp focus that the viewer is tempted to touch the peeling paint to see if it is real.

Our dramatic landscape is the subject of “Monoliths,” featuring the juxtaposition of the Sandia Mountains against an ersatz adobe building complex. The walls and edges of the geometric structure, too crisp and straight to be real adobe, offer a stark contrast to the variegated and rounded west face of the Sandias.

In “Rooftops,” Shaffer creates an almost musical rhythm of lights and darks across the horizontal composition. It’s a delight for the weary eye.

Leonardo da Vinci radically used Renaissance perspective to compose his “Last Supper” mural. The single vanishing point focuses on the head of Christ. Though very far from a sacred subject, Shaffer’s “Underpass Fence” uses a single vanishing point to draw together the foreground chain-link fence, the blue sky and the overhead man-made structure of a highway.

Shaffer finds beauty within a shabby urban vignette and elevates the scene to an almost spiritual level.

This is a solid two-thumbs-up collection of imagery by an artist-photographer who can still see through a camera lens without resorting to computer app heroics.

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