On display August 5th – September 29th.

Opening reception in conjunction with First Fridays in Grand Center – August 5th, 6-9pm.

Jarred Gastreich: Street Smarts

In the early part of the 20th Century, photography became the singular expressive tool capable of encapsulating human psychology into an art form. The camera, finally small and portable, could capture spontaneous moments in people’s everyday lives, moments of reflection, some never to be repeated, that often communicated something deeply personal about the subject photographed. Street photography, matured during this period, became the world’s principal art form articulated primarily by the artist’s instincts and anticipatory faculties. In a simple way, this art was more like hunting than painting, though the prey was to be preserved instead of killed, in a form that is transcendent of time, yet inextricably linked to the exact second of the shot.

For the first time in human history, we looked into the face of death, of despair or of total joy, and could spend time there. As street photography practices turned into photojournalistic ones, all of our public and private actions were suddenly vulnerable to the camera, which helped usher in a necessary era of dramatic social reform, regulatory change, and cultural reappraisal.

Today, we’ve created a theater of what many would have considered “street”, one hundred years ago. Using smartphones, we document everything about our lives, down to the most mundane, and then share them with a faceless virtual world. Considering that we now produce more photographs every three days than were produced in the first six decades after photography’s invention, it is no surprise that it is hard for photographers to stand out among that flood. Likewise, in this environment, it is difficult to create imagery with meaning (all of the major themes have been seen already), and what is meaningful anyway, in a world that values life so little as to keep nothing private? The more we retreat to the virtual, the less we relish of the real. The full repercussions of this are not yet understood.

Jarred Gastreich: Street Smarts takes a critical look at how the smartphone has altered our participation with others in public realms. Gastreich accomplishes this with a perfect sense of timing as a street photographer, combined with a compositional prowess that allows him to extract the most from seemingly simple gestures. Street Smarts lushly actuates the routine experiences of strangers, for the viewer to ponder and reflect upon, even as those subjects tend to negate them. It is a sort of “here is the beautiful world that you are missing” scenario. The people in these images emphasize this by looking so incredibly out of place. When one does notice Jarred, and looks directly at him, it is as though he/she appears “caught” while looking through a portal into another world, as much as or more than Jarred is aiming into one.