Although Kenise Barnes Fine Art is primarily known as a paintings gallery, when the owner with her name on the door sees something she likes, she's quick to share it with everyone who visits her Larchmont space.
Beginning with an opening reception on June 5, Barnes and her gallery will play host to two photographers whose work has been creating a buzz throughout the photography world—Joni Sternbach and Cheryle St. Onge.
"When a painter I represent introduced me to Sternbach's work, I initially responded to the painterly quality of her photographs," Barnes said. "The evidence of her process, the way the light sensitive emulsion (silver gelatin, platinum palladium or collodion) applied. One can see the sweep of the brush stroke; the hand of the artist."
This will be the sixth show for Sternbach at the gallery, but the first-ever for St. Onge, who lives in the outskirts of New England.
"This is my first show in New York and I am very excited," St. Onge said. "I took a workshop with Joni and her work is incredible. She introduced me to Kenise and I was asked to show some of my work."
A 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship recipient in photography, St. Onge received a M.F.A. from Massachusetts College of Art. St. Onge has eight pieces in the show that she did as part of her fellowship.
"They are from a project called 'Natural Findings,' which is a body of work I started a year before I applied for the fellowship and used it as a starting point to take the year and flush out the project," St. Onge explained. "They have extremely shallow depth of field, which allows the viewer, I hope, to latch on to that one thing that is sharp and crisp and then given a fair amount of beautiful space to imagine and recall your own experiences from childhood."
The photographer believes taking pictures with a view camera for the first time was the pivotal point where she discovered her passion.
"I think it's hard to look at photography without looking at the camera you use," St. Onge said. "I come from a background of printmaking and more traditional art and I had the chance to use a 4x5 and that just completely changed everything. When you look through that, the way that you see things is very different than looking with your own eyes and the altering of realty seemed really magical."
Barnes said that she trusted Sternbach's recommendation, and was thrilled when she was St. Onge's work.
"Because Cheryle lives out of state, she mailed me work samples. They are breathtaking photographs," Barnes said. "I was immediately smitten with the charm of her subject matter. She captures an innocence and a sense of wonder in a sophisticated and restrained shot."
For her photos, Sternbach uses an old photography style form the 1850s called collodion, where a large format wooden camera and portable darkroom create a sensation on beaches on both the east and west coasts.
"My work shifted gears in 1999. I was doing more post modern, and I was looking for a different way to express this emotional kind of feeling and I started making seascapes with details of the water," she said. "That led me to being at the beach for the next 10 years."
The work Sternbach is exhibiting is from a series entitled, "Surfland," which includes shots from a recent trip to California and some from the end of last surfing season in Montauk.
The reception lasts from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and the show will run until July 24. On June 17 at 7 p.m., Sternbach will give a visual presentation and speak about her work.