Asheville, NC   Sunday, May 27, 2007   1:04 AM
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by Staff Reports
published May 27, 2007 12:15 am

ASHEVILLE — Bella Vista Art Gallery is celebrating its re-opening by showcasing the work of three photographers.

Bella Vista, behind New Morning Gallery and next to Rezza’s restaurant, will hold a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday. For June, it has brought together photographers who take different approaches to black-and-white photography — Paul Owen, Wallace Merritt and Richard Cary.

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Owen’s “Night Light” series is a nighttime world of long exposure images. He is one of the co-founding directors of New York University’s photography department.

“Paul stretches the infinite evening shades of gray and black around focal points of light and with Hitchcock-like drama masterfully composes images of rural and small-town scenes,” said gallery co-owner Glenn Garson. “The grains of silver that he builds his images with are barely seen as your eye flows smoothly along the crisp, clean and velvety-mirrored objects of his nocturnal world.”

Merritt, Garson said, “brings his sensual, deeply textured images to us from the decadent, old city of New Orleans. In Wallace’s still-life images, the subjects almost tickle your fingers with their textured surfaces and their age-encrusted memories. With Wallace’s work you almost forget about the concept of black and white as your eyes glide roughly over the pitted surfaces of his subjects.”

Cary, who teaches photography at Mars Hill College, “puts as much weight into the black as into the white portions of his image,” Garson said. Cary’s images in the show are of the masks and figures in a warehouse where the New Orleans Mardi Gras floats are stored between festivals.

“His mythological creatures poke out of his black and white photographs with a mystical and bold quality. His composition is looser than either of the other two artists.”

Wallace and Richard play with texture, Garson said, while Owen’s long exposures smooth out texture and are studies of composition.

Bella Vista first opened in the River Arts District before moving to the Biltmore Village space previously occupied by Vitrum Glass Gallery. Garson and co-owner Christin Zelenka opened Bella Vista after arriving from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

ON EXHIBIT

What: Paul Owen, Wallace Merit, Richard Cary.

When: All of June.

Where: Bella Vista Art Gallery, Biltmore Village.