By Bill Wilde
IMAGES BY PAUL OTT
SEPTEMBER 2ND 2023-NOVEMBER 26, 2023
THE RAYMOND LIBRARY (ART GALLERY)
840 Main St, East Hartford, CT 06108, Phone+1 860 289 6429
Review is copyright and can be used with permission.
There are at least three reasons why you must go and see this exhibit. First the location, is wonderful, the Raymond Library has a large three story exhibition space. It is open and well lit too. Second, It is easy to get too and has great parking. And third, the reason (and the best) you should go it to see the exhibit “Images by Paul Ott”
Just before the exhibit opened I was able to get a walk thru with the artist. As we walked the gallery All of the images are well composed, some unusually too, but they work! I found that many of the images of places were reminding me of places I had been or some i really wanted to visit. Some invoked joy, others sadness. His image, “Herald Square”, reminded me of walking thru a crazier and much wilder New York City of the 1960 and 70’s. . I was struck by how much the closeup images of some of the flowers and plants reminded of portraits. An image that is a remembrance of a friend who passed, with its dramatic lighting, almost brought tears.
We talked about his work as a fine arts photographer and how that shaped his concepts around image-making for the exhibit. Here are some of the questions that I asked, followed by the artists answers.
BW-What I found interesting in the exhibit aside from the artwork itself, were the guideposts you provided for viewers. Talk to me about those?
PO-I want the viewers to see past the subjects of the images. I am asking to look into their memories and their emotions to find a common ground with what the images might present to them. It is important to me that they feel and or emote something while looking at my work. And, in the end I seek to have a non verbal communication with the viewer.
Think about this, poetry is often a metaphor for something the writer is trying to tell us. Well, so too is most art. My images are doing that same thing….. Saying hey I want you to think about it for a bit. The image in effect becoming the metaphor for that communication.
BW-Have you found that it is effective, does it work usually?
PO-That is a great question, recently I needed to do some research for an article I was writing. It involved exactly what were have just been talking about. So, I asked a group of viewers to look at some of my images. 74% of the group “got it”, you know had that shared experience in some way. So yes it does work.
BW-What about using old glass from the past, how and why?
PO-I began looking at great glass from the past from the 1930’s to the 1980’s as a way to make my images seem more interesting and provide some interesting old school looks. Sometimes a digital image can seem so clean and almost sterile.
BW-What is your hope for that viewers will walk away with after seeing your work?
PO-Aside from good compositions, great technique, interesting subjects, I want them to walk away feeling like we really communicated with each other thru these images. That they were touched in some way.
On another day over coffee in his garden we continued the conversation.
BW-Where too now, digital or film?
PO-Mostly digital, with the old glass. I do take out a film camera, an ikon or retina on occasion and shoot with it.
PO-I keep working. I am still in the midst of a few projects. I wanted to produce some new black and white slides and display them in an unusual manner. Sadly the last lab that developed that stuff in America closed last just recently. So we will have to seek how we can proceed on that project.
BW-Clearly you are a good colorist, why just two color images?
PO-I do shoot a lot in color too. Those two are there for a reason. I think people look at color and black and white images in different ways. It is my way of seeing if that is true.
Paul Ott’s work has been called dramatic, powerful, all the way to sensual and mediative. He is truly one the most underrated fine art photographers out there today. I write about many artists. Seldom do I enjoy meeting and writing about them as much as meeting Paul. Get to the Raymond library to see this collection of work for yourself.