Houdini's Box (Review)

Art Beyond Boundaries Gallery celebrates the magic of photography

Critic's Pick

The photographer captures her in a restful state, this stranger on the ferry. She is innocently stretched over a bench, head propped against a school bag. The ocean wind whips up on the deck where she basks in white light. This image, “Voyaging and Vamping,” is one in a series of black-and-white photos Ted Foldy shot during a trip to Newfoundland, Canada. It is on display as part of the group exhibition Houdini’s Box: The Magic of Photography at the Art Beyond Boundaries Gallery on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine.

D.J. Maes also delves gracefully into black-and-white photography in the show. His series of untitled digital photos presents five pairs of feet. They seem to come forth from or recede into a dark abyss. They are dangling or levitating off the ground. Some appear dirty, even cracked, like the feet of a limestone statue in the cemetery.

“The theme of Houdini’s Box is all-encompassing,” explains Jymi Bolden, the gallery’s director.

Bolden put this exhibition together to showcase a diverse range of photographers working with film and digital techniques. Bolden calls the exhibit Houdini’s Box, he says, because photography is a magic act. It freezes a moment in time forever and even captures the soul right out of the body.

“For the photographers themselves, it is the magic of seeing the image appear in a dish of photography,” he says.

Capturing the mystique of this exhibit is an untitled photo by Patty Kempf. It is a portrait of the artist, looking over her shoulder. Following her eye line points you in the direction of the words “who is she” typed on the right side of the image. It’s an intriguing question to ask in a self-portrait.

Barbara Gamboa illustrates Cincinnati’s neighborhoods in a series of photos titled “Cinncerely Yours … Serene Moments in Cincinnati.” She stretches the boundaries of these neighborhoods by focusing on the smallest details. The space between two railcars is all that she needs to depict the Queensgate neighborhood. In another image, hands clasped in prayer rise out of a building. Beside them, the words “reaching yourself” are framed by an arched, gothic window. It is the Brighton District as never seen before. The hands are those of Mother Teresa on a billboard atop a building.

In her image of City Hall, Gamboa shoots from a slightly canted angle so the building towers above the viewer. She has framed a section of the building between two columns so it appears large and imposing, yet confined.

Robert Harris takes a bold approach to a traditional artistic muse in his series “The Body Beautiful.” Harris obscures a nude female figure by over-saturating the color and bumping up the contrast between light and dark. She becomes architectural; a bent leg could be the frame of a window or a doorway. It isn’t until I make out the outline of a breast that I know I am looking at a torso. Rather than focus on the female model, the artist muses on color and shape.

Also featured are the works of Phillip Andringa, David C. Callahan, Larry Cocklin, Kira Kayes, Paul Miles and Matt Mitchell.

HOUDINI’S BOX is on view at Art Beyond Boundaries Gallery, a place for local artists with disabilities to display and market their work, through Nov. 14. Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.
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