John Ganis’ ‘Troubled Waters’ exhibit opens online today at Studio Rubedo

Courtesy Photo Here is a photo by John Ganis: Beach Houses after Hurricane Sandy, 959 East Avenue, Mantoloking, New Jersey, March 2013. Elevation Nine Feet. N 40.05418 W 74.04623. Ganis’ exhibit “Troubled Waters” opens today at Studio Rubedo, where his work will be playing on a loop to watch through the front window. The full show can be seen on line now through June 27.

Looking at life through the lens of water presents some distortions, but photographer John Ganis sees the beauty in what others may overlook.

His exhibit, “Troubled Waters,” opens online today.

At Studio Rubedo, a loop of his color photography work will be streaming through the window for passersby to see. The gallery is closed because of the governor’s orders, but gallerist Brian Schorn has found a creative way to present Ganis’ work. His exhibit will be online today through June 27 on the Studio Rubedo website, studiorubedo.com. Additionally, the opening reception that had been scheduled for Saturday, May 29 (during the Alpena Art Walk) will be canceled.

“The exhibit basically has two parts — two different bodies of work — but they’re connected by the theme of water,” he said.

In his exhibit, Ganis has two separate focuses. The first is his work from his book, “America’s Endangered Coast,” in which he hones in on areas that have been affected and destroyed by natural disasters and rising sea levels due to global warming and climate change.

“So I photographed the hurricane damage as not, just, like a storm chaser, but as a way of thinking about the future,” Ganis explained. “You know, that these storms are going to get worse over time, they’re going to be more and more frequent, and those areas, let’s say an area that’s maybe 3 feet above sea level, or even 5 or 10 feet above sea level, is going to be damaged repeatedly, over time.”

He worked with Dr. James Hansen, whom he called a pioneer for advocacy and awareness of global warming and climate change, having spoken to the Senate in 1988 warning them of damage from global warming.

“With the book project, I was very fortunate to get a collaboration with Dr. James Hansen, who is one of the foremost experts on global warming and climate change,” Ganis said.

In the exhibit, “It’s a very straightforward, documentary approach on those pictures,” he said.

The other focus is distorted water portraits that he takes of people and himself.

“It’s very different, and it’s very personal,” Ganis explained. “They’re sort of abstract portraits or self-portraits of my face, or people’s faces, as they’re sort of floating above the surface of the water, or in the water.”

The photos are taken with the camera actually under the water, so “what happens in those pictures is that the water acts like a distorting lens or surface as the water, say a water ripple happens on the surface, the water will totally change the relationships of the facial features and so forth,” he said. “So you get some very strange, somewhat disturbing or grotesque or even humorous kinds of alterations of the face.”

He said there are about 160 pictures in the book, but about 50 in the show, including the distortions.

“In a way, it’s nice, because I’m actually able to show more work online than there would have been physical space for in the gallery,” Ganis said.

Ganis is an American fine art and documentary photographer whose two books, “America’s Endangered Coasts: Photographs from Texas to Maine” and “Consuming the American Landscape,” explore issues of climate change and human incursions on the land. The exhibition “Troubled Waters” includes 50 color photographs that chronicle the effects of water. Featured in the exhibition are a group of recent re-photographic images — meaning he returns to a place to take photos –of coastal sites affected by sea level rise as well as photographs documenting the impact of the 2010 BP oil spill. Additionally, a new series of underwater portrait abstractions will be exhibited.

“America’s Endangered Coasts” is a pioneering and thought-provoking photographic survey of coastal areas of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States that are already threatened by a rising sea. Using a straightforward, descriptive aesthetic that combines highly detailed color photographs with GPS locations and elevations above sea level for each site, Ganis photographically responds to low-lying areas that are frequently over-developed and vulnerable to high tides and storms such as Hurricanes Katrina, Irene, Sandy and Michael.

By returning to sites that have been hit by these storms, Ganis further expands our understanding of the changing coast in diptychs that span one or more years.

Photographs by Ganis are included in the collection of the Art institute of Chicago, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Detroit Institute of Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art among others.

The recipient of the 2008 Harold Jones Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Arizona and the 2007 Honored Educator Award from the Midwest Region of the Society for Photographic Education, Ganis is a retired professor emeritus at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. He now lives in Bradenton, Florida.

To view the exhibition, visit the website of Studio Rubedo at https://studiorubedo.com/sun-and-moon-galleries.

Ganis’ book is available on Amazon or on the Studio Rubedo website.


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