Knut Bauer helps keep Tri-X and other film alive, using it to shoot unexpected landscape scenes in the C-U area.
He says he’ll keep working in his downtown Champaign darkroom for as long as he can — he’s already spent 30 years there, making magic.
"I love digital cameras but I love working in the darkroom," he told me recently in the Art Coop Gallery, where the exhibition "8 Photographers" is on view through April 13.
Bauer, who co-owns the Art Coop, contributed to the show four 120-mm prints and one 35-mm silver print of non-cliche landscapes, shrouded in mists or fogs.
"8 Photographers" features 27 prints altogether, most of them digital and black-and-white (sigh, hello, old friend!), just a few color.
I assure you there’s not a bad picture in the bunch. .
I’ll give you a tour but you should see the exhibition yourself:
. — Liese Ricketts of Chicago has five digital photographs, printed on metal from her "13 Series" — portraits of 13-year-olds whom she teaches. Each has a laidback don’t-mess with me look on his or her face. You can sense the mutual respect between photographer and subject.
— Lyosha of Urbana is showing three black-and-white photographs, one of a pitchfork leaning against a bale of hay, with sunlight casting a nice shadow on the wooden barn floor. Another shows a wooded field of dandelions, their white-gray puffs kissed by the light.
— Laurent Gasquet, who Bauer told me is a native of Marseilles, photographed street scenes in that city. In one, a wall with disintegrated paint sports an arrow-sign reading "L’atelier M." Could it be mine?
- Luther Smith, who was a photography prof at the University of Illinois three decades ago, sent the large-format color print "Where I Live, North Texas Landscape." The woods are wildfire-seared; nearly everything is a pale shade of gray except the blue sky and the red entrails spilling from the body of a horse.
- Brad Hudson, who teaches photography at Unit 1 on the UI campus, contributed three black-and-white photographs Each has an animal figurine in close-up on top, sporting goofy expressions. Under each is a smaller black-and-white photo of a movie : Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford and Gene Tierney. Their expressions complement, in a bizarre way, those of the figurines.
- Jan Peterson Roddy two pieces are Polaroid emulsions with gold leaf and wood. One is of a Mexican fortune teller offering "undocumented misfortunes."
- Peggy Shaw, who teaches photography at Parkland, is showing her dreamy, manipulated prints of mysterious lone figures, seen from behind.
The Art Coop is in the east wing of Lincoln Square Village, Urbana. You can see "8 Photographers" there during business hours: 9 to 9 Mondays through Thursdays, 9 to 6 Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Photos by Melissa Merli. Left, above, from "13 Series" by Liese Ricketts, bottom, left, "I Live Here, North Texas Landscape," by Luther Smith.