John Chiara: Sea Of Glass & Linda Connor: Earth & Sky

Presented By

Haines Gallery

Through May 11th

Haines Gallery presents John Chiara: Sea Of Glass and Linda Connor: Earth & Sky at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture (FMCAC). Focusing on the dynamic forces that continually re-shape San Francisco, Sea Of Glass features a striking new body of work created during Chiara’s recent residency on Treasure Island. Earth & Sky highlights seminal images from Connor’s distinguished practice, reproduced as luminous sublimation prints on aluminum.

John Chiara: Sea Of Glass and Linda Connor: Earth & Sky are on view at the Haines Gallery in Building C from March 15, 2024 through May 11, 2024, Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The opening reception takes place on Friday, March 15, 2024, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Free Admission to the exhibition and the reception.

Sea Of Glass highlights Treasure Island, located in the waters separating San Francisco and Oakland, as well as images made on nearby Yerba Buena Island and elsewhere along San Francisco Bay.

Chiara describes his creative process as “part photography, part sculpture, and part event.” Using large-scale cameras that he builds himself, he prints directly onto photographic paper, controlling the exposure time as he dodges, burns, and filters the images. The resulting works of art are luminous and one-of-a-kind, inviting us to contemplate their content while they point to the physical and chemical aspects of their creation.

In 2022, Chiara was invited by the San Francisco Arts Commission to document changes being made to Treasure Island, a 400-acre manmade island just minutes from San Francisco. Originally constructed to host the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, Treasure Island is currently in the midst of a massive, decades-long redevelopment plan. Mirroring the conditions of its creation, the site’s narrative is once again one of possibility and invention, shaped by complex socio-economic forces.

Chiara’s Treasure Island works reinterpret the experience of meandering through a neighborhood that straddles the old and the new. Carefully composed images of aged and industrial exteriors draw attention to shifting elements of the landscape and shed new light on seemingly nondescript places. “Navy Mound, Center of Treasure Island” (2023) appears at first glance like one of his oceanscapes, but the work’s horizon line is marked by wire and nails, and glittering light reflects off of a crinkled plastic tarp instead of water.

Other images combine the remaining wooded areas on Yerba Buena Island with flora in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Exposing these prints for a third time, Chiara turns the paper around and exposes it to sunlight, allowing the unfiltered light to directly hit the back of the emulsion. Elements of the landscape emerge and recede from these complex, layered compositions. Dense with wildlife, they hint at how it might have felt to have experienced the island when it was still an Ohlone fishing village called Tuchayune. They are also fictive landscapes, a place that is both and neither, speaking to the subjectivity of memories and experience. Within these evocative, atmospheric photographs, the changing light and fog so distinctive to San Francisco parallels the story of a city in transition.

Earth & Sky highlights seminal images from Connor’s distinguished practice, reproduced as luminous sublimation prints on aluminum.

“Above all, I’m interested in the power of imagery — in how a medium as factual as photography can evoke responses on the border between the world we know, and the one we can’t.”

Throughout her career, Connor has traveled extensively with her 8×10 view camera, investigating remote landscapes and the sacred and spiritual worlds across multiple continents. Her peripatetic approach to photography demonstrates a longstanding interest in the relationship between systems of belief and the natural landscape, resulting in profound images of wide-ranging subjects.

Bridging the terrestrial and the celestial, Earth & Sky includes images from Connor’s ongoing series “Once the Ocean Floor,” which depicts the intricately jagged cliff faces in the mountainous Ladakh region in Northern India — carved over millennia by the power of nature, as well as iconic images of the cosmos. In 1995, Connor began printing with the historic glass plate negatives in the archives of California’s Lick Observatory, located at Mount Hamilton just east of San Jose. Numbering in the thousands, the Lick Observatory has one of the most extensive collections of glass plate negatives, most of which have not been used to make prints since their original production in the late 19th century. In both cases, time — the latent subject of every photograph — moves both backward and forward, traversing its geological and astronomical aspects in order to locate viewers within a universe defined solely by flux.

In Connor’s hands, the camera is not an instrument of precise control; instead, she leaves her process open to unknown possibilities. She usually makes unmetered exposures and has a proclivity for photographing in uncontrollable situations. What results are contemplative, quietly powerful images that invoke a sense of timelessness and invite viewers to contemplate their place in the world, and emphasize the ethereal, diffused light so signature to her imagery.

About The Artists

John Chiara‘s (b. 1971, lives and works in San Francisco, CA) work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at the Denver Art Museum; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles;  Museum Bürengasse, Zurich, Switzerland; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA; Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans; Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco; San Jose Museum of Art; and Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA. Institutions that collect his work include the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Pilara Foundation Collection, Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco; San Jose Museum of Art; and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Chiara has completed residencies with the San Francisco Arts Commission (2022-2023); Fundaziun Nairs, Scuol, Switzerland (2020); Art Factory Budapest, Hungary (2017); Crown Point Press, San Francisco (2016, 2006); and Headlands Center for the Arts, Marin, CA (2010). John Chiara: California, a monographic publication of his work, was published by Aperture Books in 2017.

Linda Connor (b. 1944, and works in San Francisco) has been the subject of solo exhibitions at de Young Museum, San Francisco; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; George Eastman Museum, Rochester, NY; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C; The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C; and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; among other institutions. Her work can be found in distinguished collections such as the Art Institute of Chicago; Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, CA; George Eastman Museum, Rochester, NY; Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; and the Yale Art Museum, New Haven, CT.

Free Admission

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