JERI EISENBERG IN COLOR
Woodstock Times - Smart Art by Paul Smart
A few years back, when photographic artist Jeri Eisenberg first started spending time around Woodstock honing her work with the area's own fine photographers, her primary oeuvre was black and white. Her subject matter was often trees, forests caught from within, like condensing thoughts. The mood of Eisenberg's work tended towards, as she now puts it, "the more somber and bittersweet side of life."
"Somber and bittersweet" is quite a distance from what's on view in her stunning exhibit "Bokeh" at Galerie BMG on Tannery Brook Road, up through May 19. Named for the Japanese term for the "subjective, aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image," the new works consist of larger-than-life fragmented images of flowering trees, diffused and softened with a purposefully oversized pinhole or defocused lens, then printed onto Japanese rice paper and finished with a subtle coating of wax. The pieces are in diptychs, triptychs and other split formats, hung lightly against the wall.
Eisenberg, an Albany-area attorney who shifted full-time to art after her children moved past their college years, notes that the new Spring-themed pieces are the latest installment in a body of work she calls "A Sojourn in Seasons: Sketching with Light Among Trees." Past images from the series shown by BMG's Bernard Gerson, as well as other galleries throughout the nation, have included some stunning fall foliage pieces on view last autumn, as well as summer and winter work.
"It took me a while to learn my way in color," Eisenberg says of the Sojourn works. "These pieces took a little longer to ferment. But it finally feels right."She remembers working with an earlier mentor, explaining how another body of work in black and white was striving to capture "the metaphysical process of life cycles as seen via seasonal changes" only to be told she'd get more visceral responses if she shifted to color. And notes how glad she is she struggled through to her new work.
But, Eisenberg says, that hasn't meant she's abandoned black and white work, even if none is currently on view at BMG (there are some earlier color pieces in the form of hand-doctored Polaroids with a similar ethereal beauty to the new work). It's just far from her heart at this time of year as everything starts bursting forth with color.
"I'm dying for a cloudy day so I can shoot the magnolias in bloom in Albany's Washington Park," she says. "I have to work with the right skies..."
Does Eisenberg feel her photos have become more painterly since shifting into their latest form? She says she doesn't feel so... partly because she sees everything she does as a singular body of work reliant on her own vision, gleaned from years of observation. "I am getting closer to my subjects," she allows. "That feels right."
So what next, we ask the artist. Eisenberg, as gentle a speaker as she is an imagist, says she has started working with horizon lines, trying to move beyond forests and their individual trees. "My husband and I took a bike tour of Southeastern Ireland and I must have spent as much time photographing as cycling," she says. "I'm beginning to feel happy with what I'm seeing."
Given what she's seen so far, on view in "Bokeh" at Galerie BMG for the coming weeks, we anticipate something sweet, endearing and ultimately epiphanic. Because at this point, we'd never expect less of this artist, Jeri Eisenberg.
For further information on "Bokeh," on display through May 19, visit Galerie BMG at 12 Tannery Brook Road Fridays through Mondays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. or other times by appointment. For further information, please contact the gallery at 679-0027 or visit www.galeriebmg.com.
Commentary by Craig Barber - September 2005
"In a time when beauty and non-political landscape imagery have become shunned by the art world, Jeri Eisenberg has created ethereal photographs of mysterious and haunting trees that embrace both beauty and nature with a gentle force while exploring issues related to aging and loss of sight.
Combining earlier processes (encaustic) with contemporary techniques (digital prints) and a 21st Century sensibility of vision and presentation, Ms Eisenberg 's work adds a new chapter to the tradition of landscape photography. Instead of presenting nature in all of its glorious splendor, her fragmented trees give us pause and demand out attention as we reconsider our ever evolving relationship with nature."Craig Barber, commentary on Jeri Eiesenberg's work included in the Inaugural Regional Triennial of the Photographic Arts, Center for Photography at Woodstock, September 2005.