SAN FRANCISCO – For his second solo exhibition at Haines Gallery, Bay Area-based photographer John Chiara continues his in-depth exploration of the San Francisco landscape by focusing on the idea of a city in transition. While the new photographs are undeniably about a particular place—evoking a light and mood characteristically associated with San Francisco—they speak more broadly to the ways we experience what the artist describes as “the blended character of memory in relation to specific moments or places.” Using cameras he has designed and built himself, Chiara’s inventive techniques, such as printing directly onto positive color photographic paper, leave behind visible traces of his process. The resulting works of art (each picture is unique) invite us to contemplate their content while pointing to the chemical aspects of their creation. The subtle streaking, overexposure and sudden sharpening of detail Chiara achieves in the works presented in de • tached amplify the sense of disassociation suggested in the exhibition’s title.
Chiara has recently begun to photograph the facades of houses throughout San Francisco’s Excelsior and Sunset districts, producing portraits of mid-century architectural styles distinctive to the neighborhoods. These buildings often fill the image with a monumentality that belies their unusual eccentricities and aged appearances. Rather than wax nostalgic about a bygone era, these pictures draw our attention to fading elements of our landscape. The works reinterpret the experience of meandering past these homes and shed new light on these fixtures of our cityscape.
In a related body of work, Chiara depicts transitional spaces—both urban landscapes and scenic vistas—where viewers are never privy to the final destination. While they often read as familiar sites, these photographs evade simple definition, blurring the lines between the realities of the depicted locations through Chiara’s use of multiple exposures and other photographic processes. Taken together, the works on view in de • tached tell a thoughtful, complex story about the changing San Francisco terrain, inviting viewers to linger over the past and to reconsider the present, particularly with respect to the built environment.
Chiara’s photography have been widely exhibited in group and solo exhibitions nationally and abroad and collected by institutions such as J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles. CA); Haggerty Museum of Art (Milwaukee, WI); the Museum of Photographic Arts (San Diego, CA); National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.); the Pilara Foundation, Pier 24 Photography (San Francisco, CA) and the San Jose Museum of Art (San Jose, CA). Chiara was an Artist in Residence at Crown Point Press, San Francisco (2006) and the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts (2010). The artist lives and works in San Francisco.