Challenging the Rules

Hardy exhibit features three photographers in exploration

The Hardy Gallery’s final exhibit of the season will challenge viewers’ notions of what photography must be. The exhibit description says that “rather than mere representations of reality, [photographs] can also serve various purposes and convey artistic value.” 

Photographers David Graham, Terri Warpinski and Dan Cross explained the lens through which they shoot the landscape. 

Art by David Graham. Submitted.

David Graham – Always Looking

David Graham does documentary photography in large format color based on the American cultural landscape, often images along the highways and local roads across the country.

At The Hardy, Graham will show work he made since he moved to Wisconsin in 2021.

His wife, Terri Warpinski, also an internationally known photographer, described his process as she has seen it from the passenger seat.

“There is a lot of roadside where you’re just cruising along and you see a picture and pull over,” she said, turning to David. “You saw one on the way here.”

Graham agreed that is how it often works.

“You pull over and you take a picture. There’s a certain history of all that, since I’d say, the Farm Security Administration,” David said, referring to a New Deal agency created in 1937 to combat rural poverty, in which photographers were hired to show conditions across the country. “It’s a pretty active kind of way of looking at things.”

From 1990 to 2002, Graham did a lot of editorial work for national publications including the New York Times Magazine, Time, Newsweek, Esquire, GQ, Life and Details.

“Assignments were like getting a little grant,” he said. “For editorial work, I shot medium format with a Hasselblad and then before and after I was shooting my own work with an 8 x 10 view camera.”

He’s published several books of his photographs with Aperture, the leading photography publisher in the U.S., including Taking Liberties and Land of the Free – What Makes Americans Different.

Terri Warpinski. Submitted.

Terri Warpinski – Camera as a Tool

Terri Warpinski is a professor emerita of art after teaching photography and serving in upper administration at the University of Oregon for 34 years. Now she divides her time between curating exhibitions for newARTSpace in De Pere, the gallery she and her husband own, and working on her own artwork in their shared studio.

“I have always been project-driven in my photography,” Warpinski said. “The camera is what first helped me locate content, or subject matter, and that becomes the seedbed from which the bigger ideas grow.”

Some of Warpinski’s project work is about borders, like the U.S./Mexico, Israel/lPalestinian Territories, and Berlin in the time of the Cold War.

“When I relocated back to Wisconsin and we weren’t traveling anymore because of COVID, I was intent upon finding a subject in something here,” she said. “The Door County Land Trust has provided a rich basis for my recent work.”

At The Hardy she will show work that builds on her exhibit at the Kress last year.

“It is the next elevation of the Land Trust work,” she said. “But it is more complex than straightforward. I mix into my photographic practice other materials and other content, so the work is becoming more sculptural, more installation based. For example, there’s a large hanging fabric piece. The work also embeds more of the pre-history of the land

here, and looks at the early colonization of Door County before statehood.”  

Warpinski contrasted her approach to photography with Graham’s.

“I’m not a photographer’s photographer,” she said. “Everywhere David is, he’s looking for a picture and there is always a camera in the car. That’s not me. To me, the camera is a much more specific tool. It’s more like a paintbrush, something that has a very specific purpose for me.”

Warpinski’s work is not readily explicit, she added.

“It’s not like you’re going to get the notes on the side pointing out every detail, explaining exactly what it is, or why it is there,” she said. “I could be more didactic with the way that I photograph, but that’s not my voice. As an artist, I’m not making pictures to explain things, I want to provoke curiosity.”

Art by Dan Cross. Submitted.

Dan Cross – A Dream Realized

Dan Cross, photographer, painter, digital artist and owner of Idea Gallery, in West Jacksonport, has been coming to Door County since he was three years old. His father was an educator and had summers off, so they camped for weeks on end in Weborg Campground inside Peninsula State Park. This is where his story for his series “Dockside” begins. The big dock and the little pier in Weborg.

Having a hearing disability since birth has made him a close observer, Cross said.

“I took lip reading early in life,” he explained. “In turn, it led to looking at everything more closely, so my perspective of seeing things, from the big picture, is refined to seeing minute details.”

Cross has been photographing docks, and elements of docks, for most of his life, and that’s what he will be showing at The Hardy.

“I take elements out of context,” he said. “Something that’s very small, I make large. I’m trying to give the viewer a different viewpoint, hopefully to slow people down to take notice of the docks and preserve them from a historical standpoint. The docks give the villages the charm visitors characterize with Door County. Many of the small piers and docks from my childhood are gone.”

Docks are a significant part of his sense of Door County. 

“I’ve never had a show of this dockside series,” Cross said. “I remember thinking, I’ve shot these docks all my life; the most appropriate place to show them would be the iconic Hardy Gallery, a dock that’s been used since the schooner days. To be asked to exhibit this body of work is a dream realized.” 

“Rendering Intent [ions]”  – Contemporary Photoworks by Dan Cross, David Graham and Terri Warpinski will be at The Hardy Gallery in Ephraim through Oct. 8.