New York in Cincinnati

Ausable Chasm, detail, Rick Schatzberg

Ausable Chasm, detail, Rick Schatzberg

Ausable Chasm by Rick Schatzberg, of Brooklyn, is currently on view in New York, at Manifest, a regional showcase of work from my home state. This photograph arrived on the front of an exhibition postcard Manifest sent me, and I immediately went to the Web to see the rest of Schatzberg’s work. Much of it has the same quality, where the formal structure mirrors what’s actually being seen: how nature dwarfs the people who find a place in it, the way human figures seem nearly overpowered in classic Chinese scroll paintings. In this one, a tiny rectangle of orange interior light glows invitingly, like a candle, in the middle of a white and gray-green ice world, which is gorgeously indifferent to any upstate hominids trying to stay warm within it. I can fully identify with whoever is inside that structure, though not so much this year, since we finally seem to be seeing the upside of global warming in these parts (or maybe it’s just the long arm of El Nino.) In another of my favorites, Schatzberg captures a scene that’s almost entirely a lush green, with tiny shreds of color to one side, pink, orange and butterscotch, the only indication of human habitation, some laundry and little sliver of roof, along with power wires and a road sign.

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