review

Keith Carter
By Twilight

Ulster Publishing - Almanac -May 27, 2010
by Paul Smart

Lost to Memory - Photographic studies of his mother with Alzheimer's by Keith Carter on view through June at Galerie BMG in Woodstock.


Keith Carter, the Texas-based photographer who has a hauntingly beautiful and bittersweet exhibition of his latest works charting his mother's descent into Alzheimer's, and eventual death, at Woodstock's seminal Galerie BMG through the coming month, has long called the seminars that he teaches "Reinventing the world." At first known for his way of capturing the mysteries of childhood and American rural life via a subtle black-and-white form of Magic Realism, he has long been a proponent of using his camera and darkroom techniques to find moments that hint at symbolism but escape easy definition. Call them windows into more lyrical interpretations of all that life throws our way.

Whether shooting a series of nocturnes of hands held up against night-lights and the Statue of Liberty in near-darkness, rethought treatises on the nude, anachronistic odes to photography's 19th-century pioneers, or the East Texas world where he has lived his life since the age of three, Carter has been praised for the dreamlike quality of all his images and voluminously collected. More recently, Carter's work has become more deeply personal, and gradually started escaping what had started to seem like an easy means of repeating transcendence.

The new works being shown at Galerie BMG, which will coincide with a class and lecture that Carter is giving at the neighboring Center for Photography at Woodstock June 19 and 20, started when the artist started noticing deterioration in his beloved mother's mental condition. "Photography was the thing they had shared, and it was a way to animate her," Carter's wife Pat wrote in an afterword to the recent publication of his book A Certain Alchemy, featuring the 2006 portraits of Jane Carter. "Her beauty was never lost to him. But in the end, the process he had loved to watch from atop a stool in her old darkroom reversed itself, and her image began to dissolve before his eyes until, finally, she was lost to memory."

Over the course of his career, Carter has published eight books of his photographs. He currently holds an endowed chair at Lamar University, and is a prized lecturer on the mysteries of sublime creation in the arts. "A man converses with an owl who listens intently to this human's outpouring. What could be more natural? A gigantic, towering hand emerges from the ground with fingers outstretched as a small, dark figure hurries by. All is plausible... I don't seek reality, but instead look around the edges for those little askew moments - kind of like what makes up our lives - those slightly awkward, lovely moments," he has said of what he does, even when capturing something as deeply personal as his mother's death. "My photographs are really about me. I think all art, to some extent, is about the maker...When I make pictures, it's my Autobiography...it's like writing in a journal."

This exhibition of Keith Carter's work, titled "By Twilight," is beautiful, heartfelt, affecting work that we need to see while it's up at Galerie BMG in Woodstock through June 28. The artist will be speaking about his work at the gallery, located at 12 Tannery Brook Road, at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 18 and then at the nearby Center for Photography at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 19. For further information, call Galerie BMG at (845) 679-0027 or visit www.galeriebmg.com.


Southern Photography
The Blog about Fine Art Photography in the American South
-June 24, 2010
posted by John N. Wall

Keith Carter Show at Galerie BMG


Texas photographer Keith Carter is having a show of his work at Galerie BMG in Woodstock, NY, through June 28, 2010. The work on display is from his portfolio By Twilight, documenting his mother Jane's last year of life. Mrs. Carter, a children's portrait photographer, died of Alzheimer's disease.

This is powerful, haunting photography. Carter presents his portraits of his mother lovingly, yet evocatively of her own history as a photographer, even as she recedes into the darkness.

Keith is an award-winning photographer and educator who is the Walles Professor of Art at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. He has exhibited his photographs in Europe and Latin America as well as across the USA. He has published eleven books of photography.