Night Lights" at dnj Gallery
by rebecca leib
May 2010

Helen K. Garber, Ginny Mangrum, and Bill Sosin are all very different photographers, and it might take one a while to understand the continuative thread that links the three artists in DNJ Gallery's "Night Lights." Bill Sosin sees light and moisture through windowpanes--upon first glance it seems Sosin takes a laissez-faire approach to his abstractions. With further scrutiny, however, one can see the careful construction of color and shape glazed over beautifully muddled stories. Sosin walks a thin line between letting the light be his guide and exerting control over his photographic space, and this push and pull is an enjoyable thing to experience. Helen K. Garber's work speaks to the juxtaposition between the modern and the old. Her pieces are tied together by similar subject matter being perceived in two different eras, two different places. There is a deliberate treatment in her work-- darkening, a printing on canvas--that emphasizes the nostalgic quality of looking at the old and the new, of appropriating memory. Since the subject is her anchor, Garber has free reign of making comparisons and treating her photographs for emotional emphasis. Though her comparisons seem simplistic, they are never pretentious and unabashedly show the love Garber has for her subject matter. Ginny Mangrum's work deals with light through everyday subject matter--a restaurant, a shop, a latrine. Mangrum's inventive use of light and negative space made her pieces a triumph only emphasized by the creepy, voyeuristic quality of her work. The viewer is looking in--and never out--of Mangrum's photographs. The outwardness that the viewer feels undulates from nostalgia to intrusion, making her contribution to the show perhaps the most intriguing.

"Night Lights" is really held together through the approach to photographic nostalgia. All three artists really speak to the power of the digital image (it's continuously impressive to see how great photography can be without traditional film) but especially, their treatment of this technology. The artists stretch the capability of the medium while infusing emotion--and perspective--into each of their theses. "Night Lights" lets the viewer look as a happy outsider, into worlds made artfully possible by the inside of one's memory.


DNJ Gallery Reviews
March 13, 2010

Forth Magazine Reviews Night Lights Exhibition
by Carolyn Blais

Night¡ªit can be a time of peaceful tranquility when all the world seems to be at rest; or it can be something more sinister¡ªa time when nothing is as it seems. For many of us as children the darkness of the night presented a slew of frights. For me, a vivid imagination too often got the best of me as I saw a desk chair to be an angry lion or a bureau to be a looming monster once the lights turned off. Could it be the world transforms as day turns into night? Or are our minds just playing tricks on us? In any case, for whatever reason our perceptions of things seem to change at night¡ªsometimes making the world more beautiful, other times more mysterious. A walk through the current exhibit at DNJ Gallery entitled ¡°Night Lights¡± is what spurred these thoughts as the three artists on display present photographs of various scenes, all taken solely at night.

Having been sick for the opening of ¡°Night Lights¡± on March 13, I head over to West Hollywood one week later on a Saturday afternoon, thankfully feeling much healthier. I climb the stairs to the second floor and enter a bright, clean space with lots of interesting photographs that immediately grab my attention.

In the first room lives the photos of Bill Sosin, a Chicago based photographer whose photos on display are all taken from inside his car. The results of driving around Chicago at night in various rain storms are the images of things like headlights, blaring red and out of focus, and shadowy silhouettes adorned with umbrellas and hats. With the pane of glass in front of the lens and the rain to boot, it¡¯s sometimes difficult to figure whether these silhouettes are predators lurking in the dark corners of the city, or just hustling pedestrians on their way home from work. Sosin¡¯s photos capture the essence of nighttime existence in the midst of busy city life where one must use discretion in interrupting their surroundings as the glare of artificial, neon light is often the only thing that guides one¡¯s path, while at the same time blinding one¡¯s focus.

Bill Sosin, Stop Lights, archival
inkjet print, 2006-09, 12 x 18 inches

In the next room my eye is met with black and white photos in square frames. These, the work of artist Ginny Mangrum, are part of a series called Night Moves II which Mangrum explains ¡°grew out of several years of photographing public urban spaces, void of human activity, signage or identification of purpose for the space.¡± Like Sosin¡¯s work, Mangrum¡¯s photographs are up for interpretation. A man sitting at his desk unaware of the camera, photographed from outside his office window¡ªcreepy or uniquely picturesque? Only the beholder can render a verdict. For me, it depends on the picture. ¡°Subway¡± depicts what it implies¡ªa subway car, at night of course, completely empty with its door open. For some reason, this image is incredibly eerie and makes me feel anxious. On the other hand, ¡°Shop¡± displays a clothing store window with woman¡¯s clothes worn smartly on two sleek mannequins. One might think mannequins at night to be the epitome of creepy, but for some reason I see this shot as stunning. Such a simple store front one would probably pass by in the day time without a second thought. But at night the bright lights from inside the shop that shine through the paneled glass seem to give the whole store an air of high fashion that would surely make any woman curious as to what is within.

Ginny Mangrum, Dining Room,
archival lightjet print, 2010, 16 x 20

Helen Garber is the third photographer whose work is currently on display at DNJ. Garber captures a most clever design in her work by taking photos of Venice, Italy and juxtaposing them with photos of the different yet sometimes similar Venice that is Venice, CA. I am touched by the artist¡¯s inspiration: ¡°an 8¡å x 10¡å photograph of [her] great aunt and uncle sitting in a gondola in the canal in front of the Doge Palace, marked Venice, Italy October 24, 1922.¡± Having looked at that photo as a child and then through her adult life, Garber finally got to see the real thing in her early 50¡¯s. Anyone who has ever been to Venice, Italy can relate to Garber¡¯s dismay upon realizing that the city¡¯s charming canals and narrow passageway streets are often completely beleaguered by annoying tourists and filthy pigeons. While of course the beauty of the city still exists even under such circumstance, it took nightfall to allow Garber to more adequately document this beauty as most of the tourists had then returned to the comforts of their hotels or cruise ships. In this series of photographs there is, in my opinion, no need to deliberate as to whether the images are beautiful. The nighttime captured in both of these cities that share the same name is utterly breathtaking¡ªwhether it be of the canal verses the marina, or of sailboats verses gondolas, every picture made me smile with admiration.

Helen K. Garber, Boats With Full
Moon, archival digital print on
canvas, 2010, 22 x 46 inches


Art Show
Ongoing through October 13, 2009
Artist¡¯s Reception: Tuesday, Aug 11 5:30 ¨C 7:30pm Free

Featured Artists: Charlotte Kay, AnneKarin Glass, Ginny Mangrum, Tim Leary, Ricardo Valbuena, Lucia Hye Yoon Joo, Michael Fram, Marius Starkey, Len Musacchia, Dimitri Kourouniotis

UCSF Women's Health Resource Center
Floors: 3,4,5,6,7
2356 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94143
Open to the public 11am ¨C 2pm Mon ¨C Fri or contact McKinley Art Solutions to
schedule an appointment

The ¡®Serenity¡¯ Series, sponsored by UCSF Center of Excellence in Women¡¯s Health, invites Bay Area artists to present a body of work that interprets the concept of ¡®serenity¡¯. Recognizing the calming and positive influence of art in this sensitive environment, the artists selected for this on-going series are juried into the exhibit based on their body of submitted work demonstrating the ability to inspire relaxation, well- being and calm. The artists chosen for the current exhibit represent a diverse spectrum of art practices and techniques spanning expressionism to realism, painting to photography and abstract to representational works in both traditional and new media techniques. Curated by Matt McKinley.

Ginny Mangrum: Blue Vase Series -7 images
The Blue Vase Series are digitally manipulated to look like paintings from studio photographs.They are photographs of the heart, because the vase belonged to a woman who had a sentimental history behind the vase. Ginny made the images when she was sick and could not move around with heavy equipment to photograph her normal public environments.

The bigger plan for these images is to make greeting cards by a company the artist is starting this summer called Kardia Notes. The cards will be produced and distributed to medical facility gift shops, sold on Ginny's new blog; kardianotes.blogspot.com. A percentage of profits will be given to a woman's heart organization.She hopes the blog will extend a community forum for women artists with and without heart disease to express their creativity, provide links to sell their work and also serve as a resource for heart disease.

Ginny stated recently " I couldn't imagine a better place to have the exhibit than in a Woman's Health Resource facility at UCSF. It seems serendipitous...so much work to do ahead, but at least getting started."
Artist website- www.ginnymangrum.30art.com

About The Organizer
McKinley Art Solutions is the nexus between artists in the San Francisco Bay Area and patrons of contemporary art. San Francisco based curator and art lover Matt McKinley, principal of McKinley Art Solutions, is fascinated by the impact art has on quality of life and works to demystify the language of visual arts by offering a full range of services for both artists and collectors. For more information about this exhibit visit: www.mckinleyartsolutions.com


December 2, 2007

What's not there draws viewer in
By Jennifer Modenessi, Staff Writer

Ginny Mangrum likes to photograph places that normally bustle with activity.

Parking garages, airport terminals, storage facilities and shopping centers - nothing seems immune from her steady exacting gaze.

But, what's most compelling about Mangrum's images aren't their lovely compositions or range of tones. It's what's not there.

The Mills graduate, who recently scored her first Los Angeles show, exhibiting her series "Night Moves" alongside renowned photographer Bill Owens, is drawn to empty spaces. Mangrum captures lots, lobbies and interiors almost entirely void of people. But Mangrum isn't solely concerned with getting great architectural shots. Her desolate spaces serve as a reminder of the power of the human presence by depicting its very absence.

And that makes for some very interesting photographs.

Q: You're currently exhibiting the series "Night Moves." What is it about?

A: It's an extension of my other work. It considers the psychological elements of an empty space. I started to photograph at night. I wanted to do black and white. It just sort of happened, really. It turned into more of a voyeuristic point of view.

Q: How is this different from the work you've done before?

A: Well, it's really specific. It's not just spaces with nothin in them. I've worked with them and taken all of the tones out and sort of pushed the extremes to see how it felt to have less and less information. It's not about trying to get the perfect photograph. It's more about eliminating information and seeing how far you can go from dark to the light to still create this mood or sense of looking into the shadows.

Q: When did you first pick up a camera?

A: Oh gosh, probably 20-30 years ago. I wish I could say that I've been shooting my whole life, but have done other things. I've been fascinated with art and ideas...more about how you portray an idea, whether it's a painting or drawing or photography. So my work is really about trying to get to that psychological idea. I studied fine art when I was in my 20s. Then I had to work for a living. I just returned to it.

Q: What inspired you to return to art?

A: It was incomplete business. I got into marjeting and lots of different areas out of necessity, and it just ran its course. I reached that point where I realized I was not doing what I really wanted to do.

Q: Because so many of your images are devoid of people, does it take a lot of planning to get a shot?

A: I kind of just move around and see what's going on. The last (series) was a storage facility. But what I am noticing more is that they're moving into a context that does not involve more life. It's interesting, although that hasn't really quite evolved yet. There's a next step to these things now, like "Where is the life?" If this is where the dead zone is, that meditative place, maybe there's something else happening?