Thursday September 6, 2012

OTIS -- John Stanmeyer is an internationally renowned photographer whose works frequently appear in National Geographic magazine. His work also appears regularly here in the Berkshires. Stanmeyer Gallery in West Otis is exhibiting work by Stanmeyer in collaboration with Otis tree sculptor Ken Packie. Though each artist uses a different medium, their work centers around one thing: "Fragile Landscapes."

Stanmeyer is presenting his seven-year project on trees for the first time this season. The social documentarian’s work projects a need to slow down and appreciate the world around us. In a time of rapid development in the world, Stanmeyer approaches his photography with a different type of movement. His photographs are ethereal, as if they are continuously in motion right before the viewer.

Blurred, appearing to be wind-whipped, images of landscapes and tress from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan and the Berkshires as well as many other countries hang from the ceiling of the old horse barn gallery.

Staring intently at each one, I found the the photographs grabbed my attention and forceed me to wonder and respect what they looked on.

Using fallen trees from New England and part of the Pacific Northwest, Packie uses chainsaws to bring wood to life. His sculptures line the center of the gallery, drawing me in to view them individually, then as a whole. The work is so intricate and detailed that from a distance, I would swear the heron standing on one leg was real.

Packie’s ability to hone in on depth and dimension of woodland creatures is staggering. For an artist to take the time and energy to generate life in something another may see as dead and rotting takes courage and inspiration. The value Packie has for the world is obvious in his carvings. His artist’s message is clear: Our time is short, precious and fragile.

Alongside the two professionals, Richard and Konstantin, sons of Stanmeyer and his wife, Anastasia, are also displaying their recent involvement with photography, with images they have taken with their iPhones during everyday life in the Berkshires. The black and white photos have child-like qualities while still reflecting an appreciation for the landscapes of Berkshire County and the fragility of the world we live in.