Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services
HOW WE USE LAND: PHOTOGRAPHS OF QUEENS COUNTY
BY PAUL ANTHONY MELHADO
--Exhibition by West Indies Native and Long-Time Queens Resident
Builds on His “Queens County Parks” Series--
|Exhibition Dates: ||Wednesday, February 8 – Thursday, March 30, 2006 |
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|Where: ||The Queens College Art Center |
6th floor, Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library
65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, NY
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|Gallery Talk and Reception: ||Wednesday, February 8, 2006, 5 - 6 pm |
Reception, 6 - 7 pm
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|Gallery Hours: ||Mondays - Thursdays, 9 am - 8 pm |
Fridays, 9 am - 5 pm
Closed weekends and holidays; closed February 13 and 20
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|Gallery Contacts: ||For more info: (718) 997-3770 |
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|Fee: ||Free and open to the public |
FLUSHING, NY, January 19, 2006 – How We Use Land, a black-and-white portrait of Queens by a local artist born in Jamaica, West Indies, will be on view at the Queens College Art Center beginning Wednesday, February 8. On that day, the public is invited to a free gallery talk by the artist from 5 to 6 pm. A reception will follow to 7 pm.
How We Use Land began as an attempt to demonstrate how land is used in a specific urban environment, but developed toward a more universal interpretation of our relationship with the environment. The borough of Queens—a place of contradictions and extremes, where the diversity of people, nature, and industry is more evident and intertwined than almost anywhere else in the country—presents the ultimate challenge to the natural landscape. Documenting aspects of the American way of life projected onto the urban landscape of Queens County, Melhado attempts, in his words, to build “on the tradition of landscape photography as a uniquely American contribution to the history of art.”
In love with the borough since moving here from Kingston, Jamaica, in 1978 at the age of 15, Melhado had found early inspiration in the landscape photography of majestic vistas like those by Ansel Adams. In his first photograph of a Queens park, A New Beginning (Flushing Meadows Park), 1996, Melhado “found everything that brought me to landscape photography, indeed everything that makes me an artist.”
His strong attachment to the parks of Queens became the source for Melhado’s first portfolio of photographic images—included in this exhibition—and led to his compilation of undoubtedly the most extensive visual record of the county’s expansive landscape. Over a period of seven years, he produced more than 3,000 negatives that detailed virtually every aspect of 32 Queens parks. Melhado’s newest project builds on this Queens County Parks Series.
As a photographer my concerns have always revolved around examining the identity of things, more specifically identifying qualities inherent in the human condition as often reflected in our environment. . . . In previous landscape work, such as the Queens County Parks portfolio, I presented a landscape that was as much about place as it was about challenging the perceptions of urban parkland. . . .
In How We Use Land, my interest is in the representation of Landscape not as a place but as an object, a material we shape in ways that reflect our concerns. The work does not attempt to criticize the utilization of land in the urban environment, but instead poses the question of how is land best used? . . . The question is as much about how land is used in the urban environment as it is about how the psychological condition of a civilization is reflected in the landscape. This is a unique aspect of urban land that makes it infinitely more diverse than the great unspoiled wilderness, to the extent that there remains such a thing. . . In this portfolio the landscape is the subject used to explore ways in which our identity is projected onto the outside world.
Largely self-taught as a photographer and informed by the work of the great American photographers—he credits Edward Weston for revealing to him “the difference between making art and being an artist” —and contemporaries like George Tice, Bruce Davidson, and Andre Serrano, Melhado focuses his work on landscapes, still lifes and portraits. He uses large-format-view antique cameras of various sizes (4x4, 8x10) and a 12x20 inch century-old banquet camera, and processes and prints his work—all in black and white—himself, to insure the highest reproduction quality.
Melhado is a graduate of the C. W. Post branch of Long Island University (MFA 2003) and Queens College (M.Ed. in counseling 1996, BA in psychology and painting 1986). He also studied painting and printmaking at the Arts Students League. Melhado teaches photography at Post and conducts workshops on large-format photography and darkroom techniques. He has received prestigious awards from the Queens Council on the Arts, the International Photography Institute, Editor’s Choice Awards from the International Library of Photography (1999 and 2000), and Awards of Excellence from Best of Photography Annuals (1996 and 2000).
Melhado’s work has been exhibited throughout the New York area and elsewhere in the United States, and published in Photography Quarterly, B&W Magazine, Portfolio One, and Best of Photography Annual. Relevant to the current exhibition are his Queens County Parks: Forty Photographs from Thirty Two Parks (New York, Silverprint Gallery, 2002); A New Beginning, a portfolio of 15 landscape photographs from this series; and How We Use Land (Silverprint Gallery, 2005). Other portfolios include Manifestations of the Spirit (visual details in the urban landscape) and Northern Light (winter still lifes, portraits, and domestic scenes). He is currently working on a portfolio of portraits and still life images entitled The Difficulties of Being.
Photographs, biographical and sales information are available upon request.
For directions to Queens College, please visit http://www.qc.cuny.edu/about/directions.