You know the work of Stephen Shames. Or if you don't, you know the genre as seen in photo-essays in the NY Times Magazine or socially conscious magazines of that ilk, chronicling in gritty black and white our " harsh urban reality". Maybe your eyes, like mine has grown numb to it. Maybe you think of pictures like these as not 'Larry Clark or Nan Goldin" enough to truly qualify as fine art. But Stephen Shames' current exhibit at the Steven Kasher Gallery managed to reopen my eyes to the beauty and to the brutality of American urban life. In images ranging from 1970 to 1990 you can witness a chronicle to human greed and generosity, love and lust, pride, indifference, self-protection, self-destruction and self-sacrifice all against a backdrop of grainy gray skies and crumbling tenements. It is a well traveled genre indeed but Stephen Shames' honesty and persistence of vision does make it transcend and does convert it to art. Methinks.
Childhood and Youth
January 22, 2009 - February 21, 2009
Stephen Kasher Gallery
521 W 23rd Street
NY NY 10011