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Jon Reis: By the Way

April 1 – November 17, 2010
Robert B. Menschel Gallery
Schine Student Center, Syracuse University
Reception: Friday, October 22, 6pm

Light Work is pleased to present an exhibition featuring the photographic work of Ithaca-based photographer Jon Reis. By the Way: Two Decades of America Observed 1973–1993 features black-and-white photographs from Reis’s Aviation series. Many of the pictures were taken directly on the premises of the airports Reis photographed. This may be in part due to his travel mode. He piloted his own plane to many of the airports, and once there was landlocked without a car. He flew in, photographed, and flew out again. But his speedy travel mode did not translate into rushed images. The captured moments communicate life at its best, spiced up with a smidgen of humor, such as the two women chatting while resting their heads on a plane at Accomack County Airport, or a father sharing a happy moment with his toddler son as they inspect a Cessna airplane at Tompkins County Airport.

Jon Reis is a patient observer with a keen eye for unexpected scenes on the sidelines. His images exist between the should and the is, in the wiggle room between the lofty ideas of our intended life and the painfully readjusted reality of our lived-in life. Images such as the state trooper riding his horse at the Elmira airport or the lonely passenger who gazes out of the window of an otherwise empty B747 plane strike at the core of our humanity.

This exhibition includes images taken over a span of two decades. Many are part of his Aviation series, which Light Work supported by sponsoring his Conduit Grant through the New York State Council on the Arts. Frequently the Aviation images were taken directly on the premises of the airports Reis photographed. This may be in part due to his travel mode. He piloted his own plane to many of the airports, and once there was landlocked without a car. He flew in, photographed, and flew out again. But his speedy travel mode did not translate into rushed images. The captured moments communicate life at its best, spiced up with a smidgeon of humor, such as the two women chatting while resting their heads on a plane at Accomack County Airport, or a father sharing a happy moment with his toddler son as they inspect a Cessna airplane at Tompkins County Airport.

The search for images has sent him across the United States and to different countries, yet in the end led him back home to Ithaca, NY. They vary in landscape and other telltale markers, but on a basic level they are inseparable. The span of photo locations combined with their visual cohesiveness serves as a reminder of people’s connectedness across geographical distance, and illustrates that it is not necessary to travel far to discover exotic and uncanny moments. Every moment in any location can be significant, and some photographers such as Reis are in place to notice and capture them.

Hannah Freiser
Director, Light Work

Light Work has supported this project since the early ‘70s. Reis received two Light Work Grants, and was featured in two early Light Work exhibitions. Light Work also supported Reis in his application for a NYSCA Conduit Grant, which he received in 1986. This substantial grant enabled him to photograph dozens of municipal airports and resulted in exhibitions at the following airports: Albany County, Syracuse/Hancock International, Rochester/Monroe County, Greater Buffalo International, and Ithaca/Tompkins County. In 2009 Reis generously donated an additional 93 hand-printed silver gelatin images and photo postcards to the Light Work Collection, bringing the total of images to 112. Reis continues to work actively as an artist and runs a photography business in Ithaca, N.Y.

www.jonreis.com

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