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Lauren Semivan and John Shimon

January 31 through March 27


Portrait Society Gallery is pleased to present Tangency: Lauren Semivan and J. Shimon, opening with a reception on Friday, January 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. 


This major exhibition features several bodies of new work by both artists: collaboratively and independently.  In Semivan’s ongoing series of staged studio photographs titled Sight's Periphery, she constructs sculptural environments on a studio wall. Working like a painter she adds objects, string and other ephemeral materials to slowly build a composition before photographing the set using an 8-by-10 camera from the early 20th century. The resulting silver gelatin prints are both lyrical and formal, utilizing the languages of drawing and painting while maintaining a conversation about photography, history, memory and representation. 


A collaborative project of large-scale cyanotype prints completed over the past two years will also be presented. These six to seven foot high photograms are created as the artists physically lay on photosensitive paper, which is exposed by the sun in an outdoor setting. This body of work is a reinvestigation of Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Weil’s similar project from 1949 to 1951. The photograms stretch across time, space and worldly dimensions, with visual associations to early cave paintings; the plant photographs of Anna Atkins (one of the first female photographers and a botanist) to the Shroud of Turin, and blueprints. The imprint of the human form is ghostly and translucent, with the process generating curious burst of light within the figures.  Meanwhile, pinhole photos made simultaneous to the photograms show the same postures from an entirely different perspective.


According to Semivan and Shimon: “These images are about physical immersion in the process of making art; entering into a dialog with time, space, and human experience; art as a philosophy of life situated somewhere on a continuum of ideas and people.  They address the point of tangency: the point at which the line intersects the circle, and the flatness of the paper as it intersects organic form.”


The third component of the exhibition is a new body of work by John Shimon.  A series of oil paintings depict death visions.  Vintage paper dolls are placed within abstract watercolor landscapes; the resulting images are whimsical, yet dark.  Figures from another syrupy, nostalgic era loom post-apocalyptically.


Lauren Semivan is a photo-based artist from Detroit, Michigan. Her work has been exhibited at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Cranbrook Art Museum, Blue Sky Gallery, Silver Eye Center for Photography, Paris Photo, The Griffin Museum of Photography, and the Hunterdon Art Museum among others.  Lauren’s work was recently published in Essay’d III: 30 Detroit Artists (Wayne State University Press, 2019), Harper’s magazine, and Series of Dreams (Skeleton Key Press, 2018).  Reviews have appeared in The New Yorker, Interview Magazine, The Village Voice, and Photograph magazine.  Her work is part of permanent collections at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Cranbrook Art Museum, The Wriston Art Galleries at Lawrence University, and The Elton John Photography Collection.  She is represented by Benrubi Gallery in New York, and David Klein Gallery in Detroit, Michigan.


John (johnie) Shimon has been making (too much) stuff for a good part of a century, searchable as johnie painty, hollywood autopsy, and J. Shimon and J. Lindemann.  



Marsha McDonald and “Midnight in the Garden,” in the Project Space


In addition to Tangency, PSG will also present a Project Space exhibition by Marsha McDonald. "Midnight in the Garden" is a series of photographs taken in gardens in Tokyo at nightfall over a four-year period. 


Marsha McDonald has lived part-time in Tokyo for many years. After working long hours with extended commutes, she would walk home in the dark. She grew to admire the gardens in the west Tokyo neighborhoods where she lived. At night they were dim but dramatically lit, full of shadows.


She says, "Night walks have been a part of my life since I was a teenager. Living then on the edge of a city, I would often dare myself into solitary strolls. Bats dove for moths seeking street lamps. Haloed beneath, the road shoulder told the story of escaped garden favorites living among native wildflowers. These memories resurfaced as I walked home through the outlying boroughs of Tokyo. There I marveled not only at the care given to small gardens but at the acceptance often shown native plants that had found their way into the beds."


Marsha McDonald was born in Toledo, Ohio. She received her BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In 1994, she left San Francisco and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She now lives and works in Milwaukee and Japan.


She has been awarded art fellowships in Spain and Germany. She is also a fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Art and Sciences.


She has exhibited her paintings and works on paper nationally and internationally, including an American Embassy-sponsored exhibition on art and the environment in Sri Lanka. Her paintings are in both private and public collections in the United States and abroad. In recent years, she has had solo and group exhibitions in San Francisco, Tokyo, Milwaukee, and UK. 

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