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Powerhouse: The Photographs of Darris Lee Harris
April 6 - June 9 , 2007 (Extended through Saturday, July 28)

A precisionist photographer's discoveries inside an abandoned power plant.


Like a modern version of the spectacular 18th Century etchings by Piranesi, Darris Lee Harris' large format photographs of a secret powerhouse on Chicago's South Side evoke an unimaginable scale of architecture.

One of this city's finest precisionist photographers, Darris' architectural career has culminated in these breathtaking images of a monumental interior that are the essence of the Chicago School philosophy of finding beauty in structure itself.

Resembling enormous movie stills from the enginerooms of the Titanic, Darris photographs, "...show how powerful and dizzying the world inside the Powerhouse can be."

His impression upon seeing the former Sears, Roebuck & Company power plant for the first time was one of overwhelming disbelief: "The Powerhouse is an artist's dream. The light, pouring in from the skylight above, reveals in equal parts beauty and decay. At every scale, the power of the Powerhouse can be seen and felt - enormous bolts, giant valves, and precise gauges. I loved the Powerhouse instantly."

Because its real estate value has overwhelmed its historical role, the recently gutted Powerhouse itself will be remembered only by these images of sepia toned steel and time worn conduits in state-of- the-art, archival photographs that could only be produced by the latest generation of image makers.

All works are for sale. "Powerhouse: The Photographs of Darris Lee Harris" opens Friday, April 6th and runs through Saturday, June 9th, 2007.

harris
#02
Exhibition Print, 2007
20 x 24 inches

harris
#07
Exhibition Print, 2007
20 x 24 inches

harris
#08
Exhibition Print, 2007
20 x 24 inches

harris
#16
Large Format Exhibition Print, 2007
30 x 40 inches

harris
#61
Large Format Exhibition Print, 2007
30 x 40 inches

harris
#79
Exhibition Print, 2007
24 x 20 inches

harris
#156
Exhibition Print, 2007
20 x 24 inches

Click on image
to enlarge

harris
#17
Large Format Exhibition Print, 2007
40 x 30 inches

harris
#69
Exhibition Print, 2007
20 x 24 inches

harris
#76
Exhibition Print, 2007
24 x 20 inches

harris
#82
Exhibition Print, 2007
20 x 24 inches

harris
#38
Large Format Exhibition Print, 2007
40 x 50 inches

harris
#39
Exhibition Print, 2007
20 x 24 inches

harris
#62
Exhibition Print, 2007
13 x 19 inches

harris
#108
Large Format Exhibition Print, 2007
30 x 40 inches

harris
#133
Exhibition Print, 2007
19 x 13 inches


Darris at work on #69
Photo by David Kindler

Click Here to Read Alan Artner's review
in the May 25, 2007 Chicago Tribune

Notes on the Exhibition:
Powerhouse: The Photographs of Darris Lee Harris
April 6 - June 9, 2007

It's not often that I can help germinate the seed of a body of work, but "Powerhouse" became just such an opportunity. In September of 2006 I was sent an email from a representative of the owner of the old Sears power plant that had been built in the early 20th Century. It was soon to be gutted and redeveloped into a school, but the interior, which had been closed for years, was such a dazzling location that the owner just had to find a photographer to capture its look before it disappeared.

I, of course, contacted Darris Harris. When he first saw the Power House, he remembered, "I was already pinching myself to make sure such a great opportunity was actually happening." And because he would be freed from his usual need to document the space, as his day job requires, his usual reserve boiled away. "Because there are at least a dozen future photos in every direction, the first obstacle in the Powerhouse was learning patience."

I had long been looking for color photography that I actually liked. Since the beginning of my art career, I'd had the privilege of handling great 19th and early 20th Century works by Stieglitz, Atget, Abbott and Strand that pushed black and white to its limits. Color today often resembled stills from early Technicolor musicals, seemingly in love with the "ability" to produce large format images at all.

Darris showed me early proofs that had me checking my calendar. It was an immediate decision to mount an exhibition as soon as possible. The Elizabeth Ockwell show was planned to be followed by materials I had owned for years, but Darris' shots were so compelling, and the subject matter was such a polar opposite from her Paris Opera House watercolors, that it became the quickest decision I've ever made.

"Darris Harris and the Power House" sounded fun as an alliterative follow-up show to "Elizabeth Ockwell and the Paris Opera House" but I considered it too superficial and "gimmicky" for this material. I merely changed the name of the building to one word, "Powerhouse." It could then also be read as an allusion to the strength of Darris as an artist.

One again, the Tribune's art critic was bowled over by what was displayed on my walls. When he came in, he compared Darris's approach to that of Charles Sheeler's industrial photographs of the early 20th Century. He closed his review by noting, "The results are documents as physically beautiful as those of Chicago's movie palaces. But they also cause something more, an ache that comes from the knowledge our industrial might has passed into history. Other artists in recent months, in painting as well as sculpture, have pressed on this sore spot, but none have surpassed the gentle poignancy evoked here."


David Jameson
ArchiTech Gallery
730 North Franklin suite 200
Chicago, IL 60654
312-475-1290
ArchiTechGallery@earthlink.net


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