Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Views and Visions: Tony Peterson

from Review Magazine June 26, 2011

Tony Peterson
Uncommon Visions of the Common World

by Steve Brisendine

Tony Peterson first set out to tell stories with his photography ... but he didn't like what he had to do to get those stories.

"I got my degree in photojournalism," Peterson said at the Final Friday opening for Uncommon Visions of the Common World, his solo show at the Lawrence Percolator. "But I didn't like the 'in your face' aspect of that, and so I went into nonprofits for 30 years."

Still, Peterson kept seeing — and photographing — things others missed.

I went on a trip with a friend of mine, he writes, and when she looked at my photographs she asked, "Were we in the same place?" We were in the same place at the same time yet my perspective and what I saw was completely different.

That’s when I realized that I do have an Uncommon Vision of the Common World.

Peterson covers a wide range of subjects with his work, but the nature of structures and the structures of nature are common threads running through the photographic portion of this show. (More on the other part coming up shortly). He focuses not so much on the objects themselves, but on focal points and resonant visual elements, so that each is as much a study in shape and symbol as a record of the thing being photographed.

What's especially effective is how Peterson ties the photo portion of the show (his first solo exhibition, by the way) to his other works, a series of woven tarpaper wall hangings which evoke his penchant for patterns such as the one found in Chex Mix (the image atop this post).

The woven pieces are placed in such a way that they both stand out on their own and point up the pieces around them; what could have been a jarring juxtaposition instead becomes a study in harmonious ensemble.

Peterson is still telling a story with his work. It's his story, and it's one worth following.

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