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ART REVIEW: "Clouds" 

Stirring, the sky

Did you know you were out of touch? When was the last time you stood under a vast, open sky, and allowed yourself to be soul-stirred by the utter possibility found in the ever-changing scene? Too many of us don't spend enough time outside, and when we are out bustling about, ant-like, we don't look up, or the view is blocked. Daniel P. Crozet is inviting you to gaze and become lost. In a show that simply focuses on celebrating the magnificence of the sky's water-ghost inhabitants, the artist challenges our aloof modern ways, and makes subject of what has been relegated to the familiar backdrop of our daily experience, here below.

The provided artist statement speaks of the simple pleasure and purpose in apprehending these enchanting enigmas: "I am a cloud watcher. Even if I have never been able to distinguish a cirrus from a cumulus or a stratus, watching clouds moving in the sky, changing shapes, appearing or disappearing in a second, is really satisfying to me." Scientific understanding of a thing is not necessary for the mind to be fully engaged, and though nameless, Crozet's pictures delight in these misty entities' unique personalities.

Allowing the images to speak for themselves, the artist titled each photo "Cloud Series," along with a number and a letter that corresponds to the material on which the image is inkjet printed: P for paper, C for canvas, S for silk. Each image is limited to an edition of 10 prints in each size. Texture and verse complete the pictures: the fabric creations were provided by Jane Ellen B., and several images are accompanied by poems by Alicia Vandevorst.

It was smart to print some of the cloud portraits on delicate and diaphanous silk. In "#S17," cloud images are layered, and there is an interesting play between the solid and transparent nature of the material, and the cast shadows of the hanging fabric, which floats and sways in the subtle breeze of the room. These effects of the silk are rightly paired with a subject matter that so swiftly transforms itself; the emotional loveliness of skyscapes is heavily reliant on the interplay of shadows and scattered and reflected light. The captivating piece with electric colors chosen for the show's postcard is also on silk and displayed in the gallery's front window, appropriately filtering the light that comes pouring through.

In several instances, Vandevorst's verse enhances the visually musical show. "#P41" reveals a glowing sky, with downy ribbons of fire on a royal violet field. A few lines from the paired poem illustrate how the sky can hold sway over the sensitive mind: "The tattered quilt unrolls/ Like the lullabies of distant lands./ My ears are swollen/ Bowls. My eyes are straws [...] I hang without the gravity/ of place. The circular horizon/ Bells inside the case of me--/ Every golden pleat. [...]".

Crozet aimed skyward to create studies of the gestural air, some of which gracefully hint at the presence of the other elements. Often the clouds are crisp, and seem to be exactly what they are, while others are abstracted and appear to be on fire (#C28), or reflections of water, as if a sky-ocean (#P31), or geological strata in canyons of rock.

In many of the pictures we are able to perceive the ever-moving aspect of the clouds, captured by Crozet's deft attention. He has recorded the ethereal bodies tumbling, dancing, and evaporating across our delicate earth-ceiling, and our once-solid 2-D perception of the painted dome above falls away.

The digital distortion used in "#P22" resembles warp-speed motion, and has the viewer rapidly traveling deep into the picture toward some disappearing point, as though swifting off with the birds, but also speaks of our modern pace through our lives. Emerging from the vaporous canopy at the bottom of "#P38," we sneak a peek, sans-airplane, of that wide open world above and beyond the noise and rush below.

Gravity-defying bodies, coasting or resting on the uncertain back of the wind, remind us of our own experiences of epic wonderment. In "#P35," fairytale clouds soar bubbling and towering, but are tempered with dark, stringy, menacing streaks. Downy but ominous stripes dominate a section of sky in "#P27," and the accompanying verse describes how it feels to stand rapt in the thrall of a thunderous spell: "In the pound of the storm/ The bound mind succumbs/ Becomes less numb."

While viewing the show, a line from a Robert Frost poem emerged in my perpetually seeking mind: "I turned and looked back up at the sky / Where we still look to ask the why / Of everything below." Regardless of our religious stance, it seems to be a truth that we cast our gaze skyward for explanations, or in dread, or for inspiration. Crozet's work borders on the worshipful, but with the mischievous touch of a creator himself, he has crafted and shaped his own sky world through digital and textural exploration.á


By Daniel P. Crozet

Through June 15

Image City Photography Gallery, 722 University Ave.


Wednesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday noon-4 p.m.

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