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Secret Cities: Extraordinary Urban Photography
April 14 -August 19 , 2006

Unique, non-documentary visions of some of the world's great cities by ArchiTech's best contemporary photographers.

Great cities are the faces of civilization, inspiring artists for centuries yet still hiding their secrets in plain sight. Photographers can freeze an instant of beauty that countless generations have overlooked. These instants are those secrets.

ArchiTech Gallery has always looked for the untraditional artist whose point of view can tell a story in one stroke. The contemporary photographers in our collection are poets of light and shadow unlike other architectural photographers. These artists are uninterested in the mere documentary, preferring to find the deeper layers of the built environment.

Christophe Valsecchi is a Parisian who climbs the city's scaffolds clinging to the upper walls of its monuments. He sees Paris the way those iconic structures have observed it for centuries. John Kimmich-Javier has found in the streets of Cairo a constant whisper of antiquity.

Chicago's Darris Lee Harris waits hours for the exact moment that time and traffic and sunlight have coalesced to form the perfect frame. Alex Fradkin looks up, through the forest of skyscrapers, and sees the hand of man touch the work of God.

Jay King, Tony May, Madeleine Doering: These are artists whose photographs reach far beyond the postcard view to the core of the cities they walk. Secrets of Barcelona, Rome, San Francisco and Stockholm are revealed along with those of Paris, New York and Chicago in "Secret Cities," a special exhibition and sale beginning Friday, April 14th that will run through Saturday, June 17th, 2006.


Notes on the Exhibition:
Secret Cities: Extraordinary Urban Photography
April 14 -August 19 , 2006

Thinking the gallery should promote some of its truly gifted contemporary photographers, but not wanting to spend much on a Spring show, I began rummaging through the flat files to see what concept might come to me. I had wanted to give Christophe Valsecchi's shots of Paris a chance to be seen hung together, but since I was planning a Paris themed exhibition the following winter, Christophe's prints would have to be part of a larger group. There were John Kimmich's pictures of Stockholm's royal palace and his amazingly unpeopled photographs of Cairo. Tony May had shot some of Barcelona's Gaudi structures in ways that no one else had done before.

Together with Darris Harris' precisionist views of the steel superstructures of Chicago's bridges and Alex Fradkin's oblique angles of its skyscrapers, a theme began to materialize. These were all views of cities that were in plain sight to anyone but truly unseen by all but these few artists. Creative people all possess a secret known only to them. That is, they simply can't ignore their compulsion to view the world around them in their unique way.

These photographers, then, displayed the secret way they saw cities. As a long time salesman, I could see how compelling an opportunity this would be to an audience. And several magazines produced features that relied on this as a hook in editorial pages.

When some of the photographers found out about "Secret Cities," they were a little put off at the lack of an announcement postcard and opening reception. They wanted acknowledgment that their work was being celebrated, I think. I had just wanted to put something great on the walls while I thought of a "real" show. I should have known better. It never seems to be about the money they might derive, but the mark they're making in the world. Artists all seem to have that in common.

We're all still friends, though.

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Christopher Valsecchi
Christophe Valsecchi
Avenue des Champs Elysees, Paris

Gelatin-Silver Print, 2004
18 x 12 inches

chicago bridge by Darris Lee Harris
Darris Lee Harris
Division Street bridge
Large format carbon inkjet print 2005
40 x 32 inches

Darris Lee Harris photograph
Darris Lee Harris
Irving Park Road at Seminary, Chicago

Neg, 2000 Carbon inkjet print, 2005
18 x 14 inches

Equitable Building
Alex Fradkin
Headlights on the Equitable Building, Chicago

Gelatin-Silver Print, 2000
28 x 21 inches

Louvre Paris
Christophe Valsecchi
Louvre Pyramid, Paris

Geletin Silver Print, 2000
12 x 18 inches

john kimmich
John Kimmich-Javier
The Kiss, Stockholm

Gelatin-Silver Print, 1991
14 x 14 inches

David Jameson
ArchiTech Gallery
730 North Franklin suite 200
Chicago, IL 60654

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