SF Arts: Thomas R. Schiff: Poetics of Distortion Two-Part Exhibition

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The Harvey Milk Photo Center and SFArtsED Gallery are pleased to announce a book release and two-part exhibition, The Poetics of Distortion: Panoramic Photographs of the San Francisco Bay Area, by Cincinnati-based photographer Thomas R. Schiff. 

 

Schiff presents familiar icons in San Francisco’s built and natural environment from a comprehensive perspective. His latest work will be on view in February 2019 at the Harvey Milk Photo Center and the SFArtsED Gallery at Minnesota Street Project. Both openings are free and open to the public.


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In The Poetics of Distortion, Thomas R. Schiff marshals his technical mastery to convey a lifelong fascination with the San Francisco Bay Area's unique visual aesthetic. Stately structures including Coit Tower and Oakland’s Paramount Theater appear to ripple across Schiff’s viewfinder, suggesting movement where there is none. Schiff’s mastery of panoramic techniques produces thrilling and unexpected views that refresh our perspective of sites known worldwide for their dramatic beauty.  

Panoramic photography is a specialized technique in which a camera rotates in a broad sweep, capturing a continuous image of the world around it. Expanding the human field of vision, it allows us to see what is in front of us, to either side, and behind us, all at once.

Paramount Theatre -Oakland, chromogenic print, 38 in. x 10.5  in., 2007Whiz Burger, chromogenic print, 38” x 10 1/2”, 2012 

Living in a densely image-saturated world, we are accustomed to seeing landmarks in our physical or virtual environments from particular perspectives, especially the scenic points that make the San Francisco Bay Area so appealing. Schiff’s elegant, vibrantly rendered images interrupt that easy cognitive shorthand.


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He invites us to see what is familiar in public spaces—SFMOMA’s main lobby or the plaza that fronts the Contemporary Jewish Museum—from a different perspective. Through his lens, we are encouraged to recognize distortion as a generative looking opportunity, to see what we think we know anew.

Schiff studied photography under Clarence White, Jr. and Arnold Gassan while earning a BBA degree from Ohio University in 1970. A photographer since childhood, he has continued working in various photographic formats for the past forty years. His early work featured black and white images focused on architectural detail, storefront facades and windows. Schiff began working in color panoramic photography in 1994 making use of a Hulcherama 360 panoramic camera.


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Schiff’s new monograph The Poetics of Distortion: Panoramic Photographs of the San Francisco Bay Area is designed by MendeDesign and comprises 117 panoramic photos, essays on photography, perspective, and architecture by Susan Ehrens, Wendy Lesser, and Tim Culvahouse, and an author interview by Dave Christensen.

About the Artist
Thomas R. Schiff is a Cincinnati-based photographer. He has published nine books: Panoramic Cincinnati (1999), Panoramic Ohio (2002), Panoramic Parks (2005), Vegas 360° (2009), Wright Panorama (2010), Prospect (2012), Columbus, Indiana (2013), Virginia 360° (2015), Northern Kentucky University (2015), The Library Book (2017), Wright in Ohio (2017), and Cincinnati Panorama (2017). Schiff helped establish Images Gallery in Cincinnati in 1980 and, in 2010, he co-founded FotoFocus, a non-profit organization created to celebrate and champion photography and lens-based art.


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About Harvey Milk Photo Center
Celebrating over 75 years, the Harvey Milk Photo Center is the oldest and largest community wet darkroom in the United States, and is associated with the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department. Its program offers over 300 classes, workshops and lectures each year.

SFArtsED @ Minnesota Street Project
Feb 16 - March 2, 2019
Opening reception: Saturday, Feb 16, 5-8PM
1275 Minnesota Street, San Francisco
http://www.sfartsed.org/

Harvey Milk Photo Center 
Feb 15 - March 31, 2019
Opening reception: Friday, Feb 15, 6:30-9PM
50 Scott Street, San Francisco
www.harveymilkphotocenter.org

Support for this exhibition comes from:

 

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