Elizabeth Leach Gallery, 207 SW Pine, through January 31
The most literal interpretation of the "shift" notion implied by the title of the Elizabeth Leach Gallery's new color photography exhibit comes courtesy of Harrell Fletcher. His four rolls of undeveloped Kodak film with names like "Thing on Shelves in My Parent's House" challenge the viewer to imagine what sort of prints might lay inside, and challenge potential buyers to make prints of their own. The act of slapping a $300 price tag on an utterly untouched roll of film is rather audacious, but then the idea of being the first person to play in the darkroom with a bona fide Whitney Biennial honoree's negatives is rather intriguing.
Other facets of Shift range from tightly conceptual to fairly loosey-goosey. Jeremy Borsos has taken the addresses off envelopes received by random businesses and residences, then gone to those addresses and shot whatever's there. It's a cool premise in theory, but the ensuing depictions of suburban houses and minivans, while immaculate, also resemble your real estate agent's upcoming wall calendar. Meanwhile, across the room, Wiebke Loeper's crisp, gorgeous prints of lonely urban landscapes are disrupted only by two vibrant portraits of attractive women staring at the camera, spots of defiant humanity in a desolate world. Around the corner, the Mercury's own Chas Bowie represents, with a series of random, yet striking, and also huge fields of solid color broken by little bits of dazzling humor. My favorite includes a surfer's board reflecting the sun, a tiny flash of light cutting through the harsh void of a vast gray ocean. Still farther in, Timothy Buckwalter and George Korejko have developed lush renditions of decades-old family negatives. The resulting soft-focus images of a man wading in a creek with his daughter and a woman getting into her blue Buick have as much nostalgic appeal--and originality--as any Wonder Years episode.
The word "shift" is a good one, but as a rally cry for artists in a group show, doesn't mean much. Or perhaps it means everything. After all, a drip of snot falling from your nose is a "shift" of some kind, as was the fall of the Berlin Wall, as is the effort your mind will make as you try to connect the scatterbrained yet beautiful works in Shift to their designated half-baked theme. JUSTIN WESCOAT SANDERS