In an age fraught with multiple screens glaring a cascade of pixels, there is something soothing about black and white.
The New Mexico Art League’s in-gallery and online exhibition “Black and White” revels in a calm sense of detail, sometimes haunting, other times spiritual. One of the league’s most popular annual exhibitions, it features artists living and working in New Mexico, with photography as well as drawings.
Albuquerque photographer Jim Bailey was backpacking through Colorado’s San Juan Mountains when he stumbled across a cowboy and his dog.
“We met this guy and he was looking for some of his cattle,” said Bailey, who works at Sandia National Laboratory. “He had 70 head of cattle he was riding along. The cowboy lived in a cabin in the old mining town Platoro surrounded by the Rio Grande National Forest.”
Bailey has been a photographer for more than 40 years, taking workshops and classes between his job at the lab.
“I’m driven to try to create things,” he said. “For me, science and art draw on the same part of my personality. They both involve things that didn’t exist before.”
Black and white photography can transform into a kind of abstraction, he said.
“When you convert colors to different gray tones, that’s turning them abstract. It allows people to use their imagination more easily.”
For photographer Janine Wilson, the search for light became a passion. A graduate of New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology, she produced “Light Offering” as part of a series. The print is a mysterious blending of shapes and shadows.
“That was taken at the convention center,” she said. “I really enjoy photographing shadows. If you catch the light as it comes through the windows, you get different effects. I like abstract shadows and patterns.”
Judith Zabel shot “The Three Mouseketeers” while she was teaching English as a Second Language in Vietnam. The frame shows three boys balancing on boats in front of their school.
“They have to take their boat to get to school,” Zabel said. “I find people doing things interesting. I’ve traveled quite a bit.”
A newly-retired attorney, Zabel has long dabbled in photography. She prefers to work in black and white.
“I think you see what’s there more than you see in color pictures,” she explained. “People get distracted by the colors and they don’t necessarily see what’s there.”
Zabel also photographed a man playing the saxophone atop a Budapest bridge, fishermen pulling in their net in Sri Lanka, and a New York homeless man holding his dog.
“When I do people, I do them naturally,” she said. “Normally, I don’t ask their permission because I don’t want them to pose.”