“A great picture is something that awakens a very different reaction from each person who looks at it.”
– Hugh Edwards
There’s an exciting new show at The Honolulu Museum of Art through June 8 and it’s not to be missed. Please don’t do what Jerry and I sometimes do and say “Oh, sure, we’ll go see that next week.” Just go. Today.
The show is called “Decisive Moments” and it is comprised of 80 photographs from the collection of Cherye and James Pierce, who live in Honolulu. Cherye is a volunteer extraordinaire and Jim is a retired neurologist.
Curator James Jensen was given free reign to choose from the Pierce’s collection of 1,200 photographs from the early 20th century to the present. Their collection includes the most famed photographers from the world over: Diane Arbus, Irving Penn, Robert Mapplethorpe, Maggie Taylor, Andre Kertesz, Yousuf Karsh, Lisette Model, to name a few.
In making his selection for the show, Jensen said he was seeking “To find a thread, the decisive moment for a photographer to catch the instant” that results in an arresting photo.
I found every photo in the collection to be arresting in one way or another. I will need to return several times to fully appreciate the work.
Jensen divides the show’s sections in an interesting way, from the point of view of the methodology employed by the artist. For example, there is a section that’s entirely au naturale, while in another the photographer clearly set up his or her decisive moments in a darkroom or by staging the photo. Other sections include bizarre botanicals and works utilizing digital photography.
The Pierces collect based on their emotional responses to a photograph.
Cherye is originally from New Orleans and her parents were living there during the time of Katrina so there are some truly wrenching images of the devastation of Katrina. I loved the photo that was decoupaged onto the back of a frying pan, as well as “Immortelle,” a collaged quilt-style memorial made from found things in the aftermath of Katrina.
As a neurologist, Jim has always been fascinated with the synapses of the brain. These often play into the choices he makes, such as the huge photo of a tree that reminds him of nerve cells.
That’s part of what makes this collection so outstanding and engaging: it’s personal. Extraordinarily personal.
“Decisive Moments” will be on view through June 8. In addition, there will be a photography lecture series January 22, January 29 and February 26, as well as gallery talks January 9, January 16 and February 15. For more details , please go to www. honolulumuseum.org.
– Paula Rath