Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Delectable Dialect

A Delectable Dialect  

By Tom Wachunas

   “We must remember that a photograph can hold just as much as we put into it, and no one has ever approached the full possibilities of the medium.”  - Ansel Adams

   “I look to highlight those special things that add the flavor and interest to the world we see…”  - Carolyn Jacob                          

   EXHIBIT: Painting With Light – images by Carolyn Jacob / at Stark State College Gallery, second floor in the Student Center, 6200 Frank Ave. NW, North Canton / THROUGH JANUARY 26, 2017 / Viewing hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. For additional information about the show, call 330-494-6170, ext. 4733 / For more information about Jacob’s work, visit   or email

The public is invited to an artists’ RECEPTION on WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18 from 6:00-7:30 pm. in Room S201 of the Student Center at Stark State College

   In approaching “the full possibilities of the medium” mentioned in the above quote, one of Ansel Adams’ most significant contributions to the art of photography was the Zone System he and Fred Archer developed in 1939-1940. It was a method for realizing the desired look of a finished photograph by selectively adjusting particular aspects of the picture– in and out of the darkroom - such as, among many other technical and formal elements, value contrasts and tonal variations. Consequently, Adams was able to leave us a substantial body of work that advanced the art of black and white landscape photography to extraordinary levels of expressivity. 

   In so doing, he further expanded the parameters of the medium beyond “straight” or strictly objective replication of the physical world. “Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas,” he once observed, adding, “It is a creative art…You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

   Adams may or may not have foreseen the coming of our electronic age and all the astonishing possibilities it affords for making compelling pictures. Far beyond his Zone System, we’ve seen the emergence of an entirely new digital language and methodology for enhancing the photographic image. Nevertheless, he knew in his day – as do like-minded artists of today - that elevating photography to the status of true fine art was always a matter of harnessing the mechanical limitations of the camera’s eye to that of the artist’s larger field of experiential vision. A matter of marrying the tangible to the ineffable.  Real artistry in photography demands an intuitive seeing beyond the obvious to deliver a timeless essence. 

   In her own laudable efforts to transcend everyday visions of physical reality, Carolyn Jacob boarded the digital photo-effects train some years ago. Think of her perhaps as a well-traveled tourist, avidly looking to see what she has called the “picture in the picture.” An essence.  Accordingly, she has created a thoroughly refreshing travelogue, so to speak, of otherwise conventional art destinations including, among others, architectural, floral, and still-life subjects. 

   In this very crowded exhibit, her images printed on canvas are especially arresting. With these elegant compositions, we can better appreciate the exhibit title, “Painting With Light.”  In their fluidity of line, shimmering and subtly blended colors, the suggestion of rich textures, and intriguing  tendencies towards eloquent abstraction, there is often the distinct sense, albeit illusory, of a facile painter’s brush at work.

   Like any painting, a photograph is a visual language. And like any given spoken language, a visual language can have many vernacular variances.  If we consider it a matter of dialect, then Carol Jacob speaks a particularly delectable one.

   PHOTOS, from top: Pears in a Bowl / Dreaming in Green / White Tulip Fantasy / Impression of a Rose in Blue / Breath of Spring

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