Trip to Europe is captured on camera at SFCC gallery


Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

I suspect that despite our smiles and nods, most of us cringe when friends ask, "Would you like to see the pictures from our summer vacation?"

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Robert Brill's "Assisi Guide #1" is part of the photographer's "In My View" exhibit of European photographs in the President's Gallery at Santa Fe Community College.

Special to The Sun

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  • I know my eyes are usually glazed over by the third "And here's Bob standing with Mickey again, this time by the hotdog vendor."

    With that in mind, I arrived at Santa Fe Community College's President's Gallery in a mental defensive crouch. I am pleased to report that the only thing mundane is the gallery itself.

    I'm not saying the President's Gallery is a bad place to view art, just bland. It's actually a large waiting room outside the imperial chambers. It's not the Harn, but it beats crawling over wooden booths at Leonardo's.

    Anyway, we're here to talk about Robert Brill's summer vacation, aka "European and American Photography Exhibit: In My View," which is hanging through Nov. 26. To be accurate, this collection is culled from three separate trips over the big pond. Brill, a humanities professor at SFCC, had a primary goal of collecting images of architecture, sculpture and museum collections for use in the classroom. Goal number two was more traditional: preserving memories.

    I arrived at the first photo, "Assisi Guide #1," and immediately relaxed. The black-and-white print captured an ebony cat sitting above descending stone steps that curved and disappeared in the distance. Brill snapped the shot with the cat as a silhouette. Thanks to the low light and monotone printing, the featureless feline delivered a sense of mystery that I found very attractive and completely Mickey free.

    Another fine silhouette was "The Lady of Lucca." Brill gave the camera just enough light to glimpse the basic lines of a Madonna, erected in a square fronting a venerable brick church. By shooting from below, Brill's Madonna seems to tower in front of the ancient façade.

    "Corinthian Detail" is a study of the capitals of several columns, and the underside of a vaulted loggia at the Pazzi Chapel in Florence. If you are not familiar with this church, it is an early renaissance masterpiece by the period's greatest architect, Filippo Brunelleschi. Rather than doing the usual wide-angle tourist shot, Brill narrowed the focus to a small area containing the columns, roundels and the richly carved panels that decorate the ceiling. With a cypress tree adding color in the background, the details just pop out of the picture. Brill was so taken with this view he returned two years in a row to get this shot.

    "Under the Loggia" is an outstanding shot of a cyclist pedaling away down the long, narrow walk. The columns marching down one side add a fine linear perspective, but what really makes the photo work is the diagonal slashes of light that cross the walkway. Brill calls lighting like this a gift.

    While many of the 33 photographs were taken in Italy, there are also several from London and a few from slightly less exotic Gainesville. My hands-down favorite from the British collection is "St. Paul's Puddle." Brill took the shot this year when London was trying to imitate Venice. During one break in the rain, Brill looked down at the sidewalk to find, broken across three separate puddles, a beautiful reflection of the Cathedral. The Golden Gallery is in the top puddle, the dome in the middle and a section of the main structure below. Brill had to wait for 20 minutes for the chance to shoot the water undisturbed, and it was so worth it.

    If you are going by Santa Fe and have a few minutes, I recommend stopping in to check out this visual diary, which is well done. The President's Gallery is located on the second floor of the administration building.

    This weekend is the 33rd Annual Micanopy Fall Harvest Festival. The event draws local artists, crafters and musicians for the two-day event and crowds usually run into the thousands.

    This is the main event of the year for the historic little burg with a population of less the 750 souls. Booths and stalls line the charming downtown area. If you have never been there, go. It's a gem of a town. You know all those movies of small-town life? They should have been shot here, and some were. Old mansions, antique shops and Victorian homes are rampant. There are ice cream parlors, museums and more.

    As for art, there is a tiny little operation called Gallery Under the Oaks that is located inside a log cabin. For a small gallery, they have some pretty talented members. Jerry Patterson and Gary Borse are both in the mix, and every time I wander in, Dominick Martino, an excellent wildlife photographer, seems to be manning the desk.

    The last time I hit this festival it seemed more craft than art, but I am sure there will be some gems to be found, starting with the town itself.

    David Hackett can be reached at davidmhackett@cox.net.

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