A Sense of Place ART REVIEW
By Leela Vera Morales
Sometimes the real Baja Sur is washed away in the wave of ‘tourist’ culture. We’re in Mexico, but who are the Mexicans? What were their customs before the U.S. Dollar came knockin’ at the door? To catch a glimmer of the original Baja, visit Todos Santos where an exhibition of resident photographer, Laurie Pearce Bauer, captures a sense of place.
Galaría Casa Tota is host to this photography exhibition, A Sense of Place. On April 10th, Bauer welcomed over 80 people to the art opening. If you weren’t privy to the opening where she spoke about her life and influences, you can discover her work at a calm pace from now through June.
Art has been an important part of Bauer’s life since childhood, but first began delving into landscape photography while working as in architecture in San Francisco. Later she began doing black and white classic “Madonna-style” mother-and-child portraiture. She became an expert darkroom printer. This was an alternative to the mainstream, commercial portraiture offered at the time. Bauer says she found her “voice” as a photographer when she moved (with husband and two small children) to northern France. The mystery and allure of the historic ruins of the region inspired her to develop impressionistic prints, 'creating a feeling of the past in the present moment', through her photography.
The antique quality of Bauer’s work is reflected in her Ranchero and People portraits. By working in black and white she feels she can better capture the essence of her subjects. Her interest in broadening the notion of time through the timeless quality of photographs is an attempt to help the viewer to be “more observant and present”. It is also an expression of the Buddhist teachings that have a strong influence on her art.
One of my favorite pieces is “Rancho Burnishing Clay”. It’s a warm tone black and white photo (as are most of her pieces) of a Ranchero woman’s hands putting the finishing touches on a traditional clay pot. I stood captivated before it for a long while. I felt as if I was the artist, lost in my work. The romance we associate with the creative process, and the flow an artist experiences when in the moment were all captured in that one shot.
A Sense of Place includes Bauer’s photos of Baja Ca Sur, botanical life, and Aztec and modern dancers, but the most striking of all are those photos taken locally of Rancheros and of the Todos Santos street art “Wall of Saints”. In portraits of both the oldest generation of resident, as well as the younger generation. She shows “strength of character with less materialism - the way people lived years ago.” One feels as if one has been invited into the homes and lives of the Sud-Californianos.
Bauer’s photos of the “Wall of Saints” – a long wall painted by resident artists and children of the Palapa Soicety – bring to life local art, often overlooked. I, for one, had no idea where it was, despite driving by it several times a week. The paint is chipped and fading, destroyed in the daily onslaught of dust and sun, but in Bauer’s photos they positively radiate with life and unearthly essence.
“I want to show layers of time,” says Bauer. “I think we need to learn from our history. We’re so caught up in our own lives – it is good to broaden the view.”
Bauer’s photography is somewhat haunting, yet warm and inviting. Through her work, one senses the Baja California of a time gone by, and the one that is still alive and breathing beneath the veneer of modernity. A Sense of Place is on exhibit at Galaría Casa Tota through June, and is open seven days a week during Casa Tota’s restaurant hours. Prints (framed and unframed) are available for purchase at extremely reasonable prices as well as art cards.
Her Fine Art web site can be found at: http://casaverdephotography.blogspot.mx
Laurie Pearce Bauer is also available for wedding and portrait photography, which is somewhat different from her fine art, but excellent in quality, composition and feeling. Visit www.baylaurelphotography.com for more information.
Cabo Mil Interview 96.3 fm
Weekend with Wendy Program, Saturday April 19th 2014