No art gallery in the Hartford area gets its spooky on better than PhotoSynthesis. Every October for the past three years, the Manchester art space has assembled a juried show of unsettling images.
While the images aren't necessarily Halloween-related, they do leave the viewer with a creepy feeling, as if the photographers have captured a bit of weirdness out there in the world that nobody else knows about, and captured it in black-and-white, enhancing the otherworldly feel.
Gallerist Chris Huestis gave his "director's award" to an inkjet print by Jack Barnosky, of an old man dressed all in black, being followed by the shadow of a bird. Birds figure into other works, such as Jacquelyn Etling's super-high-contrast pigment ink print of a black bird, and Wendi Schneider's image of an owl in flight.
Juror S. Gayle Stevens gave her award to "Fear," an ambrotype by James Weber, a dark image of a woman with her hands around her face, while intentional flaws in the photo swirl around her, blurring the model's features.
Many of the pieces in the show take on that same murky tone, lending the images an air of mysterious menace or just confusion. A waxed polymer photogravure by Kelly Wamhoff shows an indistinct, shadowy view of a woman wearing a long black veil. "Cover Me," a tintype by Katy Tuttle, captures two little girls holding hands, their faces disappearing into the vague darkness. Donna Moore's "Into the Light," a pigment ink print from a pinhole camera negative, repeats images of the same woman, none of them clearly defined. Erwin Parviz's "Walpurgis Master" is an indistinct image of a dark man descending a staircase.
Kathryn Frederick's two photos are both eerie and silly, showing adults wearing animal masks. Joanna Stuart's "Room with Lightning and Lamp" goes for a surreal look, with nothing quite adding up spatially. Alexandros Megas' two photo-based mixed media works on watercolor paper are dark riffs on the imagery of religious icons.
Huestis said the 48 artworks in the show, the work of 34 artists, were chosen from about 400 submitted from photographers around the world.
Other photographers featured in the show are Greg Banks, Stephen Baumbach, António Castilho, Skott Chandler, Robert Dutruch, Diane Fenster, Denis Hagen, Angela Kleis, Michael Koerner, Julianna Kristoff, Traci Marie Lee, Sue-Yee Leung, Dan McCormack, Jeff Moorfoot, Dale Niles, Heather Ross, Tricia Scott, Jean Selman, Andrew Sherman, Sara Silks, Dorota Stolarska, Carole Waterman and Andrew Wohl.
THE WITCHING HOUR: IMAGERY FROM DARKNESS will be at PhotoSynthesis, 136 1/2 Pine St. in Manchester, until Nov. 12. photosynthesisct.com.