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Exhibit captures realistic view of subjects

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  • | 5:00 a.m. November 24, 2009
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Before you get to Michael Jackson flashing his rhinestone-studded white glove, you first must pass a dozen Florida cowboys, a series of stark electrical poles, several airborne dancers swathed in silk and a collection of watercolor paintings rendered so realistic that, at first glance, they resemble photographs.

Art Center Sarasota’s curated photography exhibit opened Thursday, Nov. 19, in conjunction with the gallery’s sixth annual Florida Photography Open Juried Exhibition. The show features work by local photographers David McGough, Jimmy Peters and Arieh Aizenberg, as well as New York City photographer Richard Brownbill and Tampa-based watercolorist Dean Mitchell.

Hailed a “a virtual modern-day Vermeer” by The New York Times, Mitchell, a prolific painter, is famous for his portraits of everyday people, musicians, grizzled laborers and church-goers. His urban streetscapes, paintings of barns, tumbledown houses and shipyards are, according to the artist, “not about color, but about life.”

Although Mitchell’s “Shades of Light” depicts middle- and lower-class blacks in landscapes pulled from Mitchell’s Southern upbringing, Brownbill’s color photographs focus on the figure and form of New York City dancers in motion — à la renowned dance photographer Lois Greenfield, Brownbill’s mentor.

The airy grace seen in Brownbill’s work is contrasted by the black-and-white photographs of leathered-and-weathered cowboys straddling horses, tearing up clouds of dirt and dust on ranches in East Bradenton, Sarasota, Arcadia and Brighton.

“I don’t think people know they’re there,” says Peters of the cowboys. “I’m trying to show people and tourists that when they come to Florida, there’s more to it than Disney, the beaches and fishing.”

A Sarasota native, Peters, 65, grew up on a small ranch off Bee Ridge Road. He owned an advertising agency for 30 years before semi-retiring in 2007, during which time he began photographing cattle wranglers on nearby ranches.

Sharing the same gallery space as Brownbill and Peters is Aizenberg, an Israeli-born photographer with a Bachelor’s of Art degree in interior architecture and design.

A Sarasota resident, Aizenberg’s photographs of roadside electrical poles, power lines, walls, bridges and other functional structures are jarringly different than that of his gallery companions, namely because the subject matter is inanimate.

“Arieh brings a unique perspective to the show,” says Fayanne Hayes, executive director of Art Center Sarasota. “He travels around the U.S. and documents the textures and structures of our cities and highways.”

Perhaps the sexiest body of work, however, is hanging in the gallery’s center atrium — McGough’s black-and-white photographs of New York City hipsters, rock-and-roll legends and Hollywood icons, including Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Al Pacino, Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna and Andy Warhol.

McGough spent most of his career in New York City documenting celebrity nightlife for magazines such as Vanity Fair, People, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Time and Life. During his 25-year association with the “New York Post,” McGough garnered more than 100 page-one photographs.

Now an Anna Maria Island resident, the retried paparazzo has turned to painting and collage, instead illustrating his star subjects in acrylics, oil and mixed media.

Contact Heidi Kurpiela at [email protected]

Art Center Sarasota’s Curated Photography Exhibition and Watercolors by Dean Mitchell will be on display through Jan. 9. For more information, visit or call 365-2032.


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