Steiner Swaps Paintbrush for Photo Lens in "Conspicio"

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BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY FEB 15, 2019

For most in the arts community, the name David Steiner belongs to a painter or perhaps one half of the dynamic duo behind State of the Arts Gallery on State Street, but with his first solo show at Gaze Modern, Steiner shows a different facet of his artist’s core—the photographer. Entitled Conspicio and opening at Gaze this Saturday at 5:30pm, the exhibition features 21 original photographs, a limited 12-print series and a mission to elevate the medium.

The son of a Kodak employee, perhaps the jump to photography was inevitable, and Steiner certainly expresses a noticeable ease and comfort with the medium. “It’s the same vocabulary—composition, color, texture,” he says. “It’s just a different brush.” And his love of the medium as fine art also comes informed by a love of its history as such, from the black and white beginnings and titans like Ansel Adams to the injection of color and Kodachrome, the form shepherded along to the halls of MoMA by the likes of William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, as an artistic equal to the paintings hanging before and after it. And while Steiner won’t place his name next to these greats, he will align with them in principle, as he pushes to see photography recognized and celebrated in Sarasota.

A Latin term meaning “to see” or “to gaze,” the title “encapsulates what photography means,” says Steiner, which is not “to stare” or “to study,” but rather something more instinctual and immediate—a visual resonance not easily quantified or replicated. Conspicio sees the artist working within the street photography tradition, capturing those candid moments in time, from a deflated basketball on the ground to criss-crossing construction cranes in the sky or billowing clouds dwarfing carefully strung power lines, the fluffy cumulus form somehow inspiring something almost like dread. “Any picture is better off with a narrative,” Steiner says, and his lens turns toward the quiet drama of the everyday and overlooked. With no beach scenes or sunsets in sight, there’s little to identify as Sarasota, but much to identify as human.

It’s all part of a greater push to see the medium get its due, the artist says, also announcing plans to dedicate part of State of the Arts’ Gallery C to continually exhibiting photography. “There’s no one in town who’s really elevated fine art photography,” says Steiner. And while he won’t claim to be the one to do it, he has no problem starting the conversation.

Opening this Saturday, February 16, with an opening reception at 5pm at Gaze Modern, Conspicio runs through February 24.

Pictured: "Trapped" by David Steiner.

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