Earlier this week I popped into a shoebox sized gallery on the Upper East Side. I remember reading somewhere on-line about an exhibition called Stone Walls by Mariana Cook. I was intrigued that the photographer, the last protégé of Ansel Adams, spent eight years traversing the globe taking pictures of old walls. She went to farms in Ireland, temples in Peru, towns in Kentucky. She got stuck in the rain, freezing wind. Who does that? I remember thinking that the least I could do is stop in and take a look. Ten minutes of my time to see eight years of hers.
Plus the image on-line appealed to me.
Ten minutes turned into two hours. I was mesmerised by these jagged rock fences – a study in meditation, time and mortality (I’ve been thinking a lot about mortality recently, but that’s another blog and don’t worry, we’re all fine). I also really enjoyed talking to the gallery owner Deborah Bell who has been dealing in photographs for thirty years – as a gallerist in Chelsea then a stint running Christies Photography Department. She opened her latest venture uptown because she enjoys how with all the museums in the neighbourhood, people tend to pop in, like I did. She also loves walking from her home in Chelsea through Central Park to the peaceful Upper East Side.
I asked Bell why she liked Cook’s work.
I am drawn to Mariana Cook’s STONE WALLS because of the monumentality of the images, the mysteries and questions they conjure, the solidity of the compositions, and the timelessness of the structures themselves. Plus, the prints are exquisite.
So I recommend that you all pop in. The show is on until October 27th.
PS. If Cook’s name rings a bell, that could be because she is well known for her work in portraiture: