Reframing the Medium at Divergent Image

Arts & Culture

Pictured: 1956 Cadillac Coupe DeVille by David Steiner.

Sarasota’s art gallery scene continues to grow, as a new gallery dedicated exclusively to the art of photography opens this month in the Rosemary District. Called Divergent Image and founded by David Steiner, cofounder of State of the Arts Gallery, where his painting can still be found, the gallery features the work of Steiner, as well as photographers Salvatore Brancifort and Todd Marti, and aims to reframe the medium for modern audiences.

“I want to photograph things that people don’t normally see,” Steiner says, making a visual circuit of the one-room gallery, where blown up photographs of white painted arrows on cracked and gravelly streets hang next to neon pop art-inspired experiments and portraits of rusted-out cars lost deep in the Georgia woods. It’s not that you won’t find the occasional landscape—or even an obligatory shot of the John Ringling Bridge—but Steiner’s eye seems decidedly less interested in sunsets and lifeguard stands than elevating the overlooked of everyday life, from the built environment literally underfoot to tools of yesterday deemed obsolete and intentionally discarded. Photographic series memorialize used paintbrushes and antique cameras, isolated on white like artifacts in a museum. Detail shots of old machines slowly reclaimed by time look alternately like crime scene photos or triumphant elegy, finding nobility in the thing, once powerful, now broken down.

It's a sentiment that could almost apply to the photograph itself, a technology grown so ubiquitous as to be seen by many as entirely disposable. “So many people never look at a photograph unless it’s on a screen,” Steiner says, where the image becomes just one of a million conglomerations of pixels beamed directly to the brain every day but largely bouncing off into the digital ether. But by creating a space dedicated to the medium—a modern-day temple with walls for pedestals—Steiner hopes to recapture the old magic and rekindle an appreciation for the photograph as art, not product. After all, it worked for vinyl. “This is slowing everything down,” he says. “And people still want to have that experience.”

Operating his own print shop and framing service next door, Steiner also hopes to keep the art accessible by keeping the pricepoint down—or, at least lower than what one could expect to pay for a similarly sized oil painting. With this vertical integration also comes flexibility, and Steiner is able to resize, reprint and reframe just about any image in the gallery for a collector’s specific need. And if they don’t find what they need on the walls, the greater collection is viewable on request.

Located at 327 Central Avenue in Sarasota’s Rosemary District, Divergent Image is open Tuesday through Saturday.

Pictured: 1956 Cadillac Coupe DeVille by David Steiner.

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