Coda Gallery Presents Gary Gruber Exhibition on El Paseo in Palm Desert
CODA Gallery presents a new exhibition of images by local photographer Gary Gruber.
Anyone could sit on a coffee shop patio for hours, taking pictures on their smart phone of passersby and call it street photography. But, for obvious reasons, that doesn’t rise to the level of what Henri Cartier-Bresson pioneered as an art form.
Like the famed French documentarian, Gary Gruber possesses a keen ability to intuitively isolate moments — on film with a “real” camera — of strangers’ daily lives. And, like Bresson’s, his images rendered in black and white focus attention on the most essential — and not necessarily the flashiest — moments in time.
“You walk down the street and all of the sudden all these elements come together and unconsciously you raise the camera,” Gary says. “Things happen when they’re supposed to.”
The concept of things happening when they are supposed to could explain what set Gary on the photography pathway. When he was 6 years old on vacation with his parents and they were lunching with friends, he spent an afternoon taking photos from a hotel patio with their Rolleicord twin lens reflex camera. His father subsequently bought him a Canonet rangefinder camera, which he took with him to premed school at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa. It was there that a friend whom he describes as a “very lively, buoyant spirit,” spontaneously jumped on the hood of an E6 Jaguar and said, “Let’s pretend I’m a fashion model and you’re a photographer.” Ultimately, Gary ended up in the journalism program at New York’s Syracuse University.
Gary shot most of his street photography, from the mid-’60s to mid-’90s, on the East Coast and in Europe. In recent years, he has turned his attention to series of images that, while still a mirror of ordinary life, have resulted in a considerably more studied approach. One of his recent subjects is a common sight in Southern California’s Coachella Valley, where Gary lives: pool-cleaning hoses snaking across the surface of the water.
“You watch them and see the way the light reflects, the effect of wind and time of day, and it creates a harmony different from everything else you observe,” he explains of his fascination with an object that others overlook.
Though he used a digital camera for the pool-hose photos, Gary primarily shoots on film. Both street and pool-hose photography are included in the exhibition.