Wednesday, June 27, 2012

With Tremulous Cadence Slow

Detail of Afternoon Stroll (2010) by Dale Johnson, on exhibit at dnj Gallery

A standard impression of the Los Angeles beaches is that they are constantly sun-drenched, bright and busy places where scantily clad young women play volleyball and children build sandcastles. Well, such scenes definitely do exist, but, more often than not, the beaches of the South Bay area have a heavy marine layer that doesn't burn off until after midmorning. Rather than "beach babes", you're more likely to find elderly walkers, perhaps accompanied by their dog.

And it's quiet. Except for the sounds of the seabirds and the alternating roar and hiss of the waves coming in and rushing out, there are only the noises that are brought with you, beit music on an iPod or conversation with a friend. It can be a lonely and sublime experience.

That's what I feel when viewing Dale Johnson's work in "By the Sea", on view at dnj Gallery until July 21. These hazy images of desolate shores, lonely walkers, and grey skies, they capture the timeless and vast atmosphere of the seaside.

Detail of Lab and Longboard (2011) by Dale Johnson

The flat and muted scenes have a sense of authenticity to them. They capture those long moments at the shore in which there is no flashy focus upon human activity, no sandcastles, no young women frolicking upon the sand, no surfers catching waves. There are only shades moving through the dark grey of the marine layer.

Yet, for all of the sublime qualities, views that reduces the people to insignificance and obscurity, these photos are beautiful. When all of the particulars have been subdued into an gentle and ambient light, the rhythms and punctuations of the scene are brought into view. The rolling of the sea, the transcience of the people and their pets, the enduring foundation of the sandy shore, these all enforce the sense that moment is simultaneously fleeting and eternal in these images.

Detail of High Tide (2011) by Dale Johnson

So, I found this show very powerful, very beautiful. I highly recommend giving it a viewing.

Dale Johnson's "By the Sea" will be on exhibit at dnj Gallery until July 21, 2012.


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