The Berkshire Project
January 21 March 1, 2009
Opening reception Wednesday, January 21, 5:30-8:30pm
The Berkshire Project was offered to John Dolan in the form of a yearlong
grant from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation in honor of
its 20th anniversary. An award-winning photographer, Dolan was chosen
to document the region’s scenic beauty and local character because
his images are prized for their ability to convey the vital spirit
of the people and places he photographs.
Interestingly, this is Dolan’s first series, and he admits that
while the grant was a dream come true, it was also torturous. “I
could feel the sand of time slipping away as I hunted for the right
images,” he explains. “My goal was quite simple: To record
life as it actually was in the year 2007. To accomplish this, I was
forced to consider our collective expectation of what images of the
bucolic New England rural life look like. These photographs show what
happened when I stopped and looked at what was right before my eyes.”
Dolan’s influences for the Berkshire’s Project include
the ironic colorist William Eggleston, and the 19th century romantic
Peter Henry Emerson. A graduate of Beloit College, Dolan is known
for his commercial and editorial work and for his photographs of celebrity
weddings. Additionally, he is a resident of Chatham in the New York
portion of the Berkshires.
The fifteen, 24 x 30-inch color prints capture the essence of the
region with its lush summer fields, stark winter forests, lazy valley
paths and winding mountain roads. The images radiate both the peaceful
serenity of country living and its rugged appeal. “My pictures
have always been about hopefulness,” says Dolan.
The invitation features the photograph, “Slope.” Though
shot in color, the work appears black and white. The picture’s
still, frozen environment is animated by the composition, which sends
your eyes rolling off the mountain’s sloped back and into the
foreground of brittle, white trees that surround a marshy valley.
In contrast, “Corn Husks” features a point blank shot
of a ripe, green corn-field framed by a distant pine grove. The bountiful
leaves and promise of sweet corn evoke the delights of summer. In
“Fanning the Fire, 2007,” we see one of the few portraits
in the series. Centered in the frame, an elderly, bare-chested man
defiantly wields his rusty wheelbarrow. Beside him, a heap of logs
burns with the help of an electric fan. Though slightly surreal, the
photo also conveys a true picture of the independent nature of those
who farm the Berkshires.
The exhibition of the Berkshire photographs couldn’t come at
a better time, because they reflect the enduring values and simple
pleasures that bring joy to life, even in the hardest of times.
This is Dolan’s third solo with the Robin Rice Gallery.
For more information, or printable images please contact Robin Rice
at (212) 366-6660, email her at email@example.com.