Portraits of local arts folks themselves comprise a fine exhibit at 707 Gallery. | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Portraits of local arts folks themselves comprise a fine exhibit at 707 Gallery.

This project is flush with the artistic risk of unpredictability.

"Karla Boos," by Colter Harper and Carolina Loyola-Garcia.
"Karla Boos," by Colter Harper and Carolina Loyola-Garcia.

Suddenly it seems there's colored light everywhere: from the Greyhound Terminal to the top of Gulf Tower, from brightly hued compact fluorescents to the strings of cycling colors adorning half the back-bars in town. That is to say, the chromatic vigor of After Dark, an exhibit by Pittsburgh-based photographer-musician Colter Harper (Rusted Root, etc.) and media artist Carolina Loyola-Garcia, is in tune with the times. Critics might prefer anonymity, but artists live to be recognized, and After Dark puts them in the spotlight in this selective who's-who of local culture luminaries. 

In most cases, the artist is posed front-and-center in a setting relating to her or his creative endeavors. Generally, the subject anchors the image while leaving room in the surrounding space for the play of light and color, with a 30-second exposure enabling the capture of traces of added light.

It seems entirely appropriate that Quantum Theatre's Karla Boos and chanteuse Phat Man Dee appear theatrical, afloat in a sea of props and light painting. Sculptor James Simon emanates a colorful presence while taking a much-deserved rest, in a bathtub.  And painter Brian Brown's portrait looks as surreal as a Brian Brown painting.

In some cases, festiveness seems to take priority over channeling a sense of the subject or her work, as with visual-art polymath Ayanah Moor, whose backdrop of rust-brown prints are keyed up with a Times Square palette. It's not that it's insensitive to the artist or the art. Rather, it's a non sequitur that could be considered a play of pure creativity. 

Sculptor Thaddeus Mosley appears nonplussed by the activity buzzing around him, musician Ben Opie vibrates, actress Adrienne Wehr contemplates, College Inn Project entrepreneur Sarah Humphrey virtually disappears into the background (as some think a curator-producer should), and belly-dancer Olivia Kissel sprouts extra sets of arms. Fairly thorough bios on the artists are posted.

This project by Harper and Loyola-Garcia is flush with the artistic risk of unpredictability, in which not entirely controllable forces are unleashed. The completed photographs had to have been something of a surprise to the photographers as well as the subjects. The resulting After Dark is not only a visual delight, but also a heartfelt tribute to our creative class.

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