Whimsical Wanderings

Point. Click. Laugh!

At the Jewish Community Center, through May
26.

Reviewed by Brett Leigh Dicks

In capturing everything from the irregular to the illogical,
photography has always been well equipped to create enduring
moments of irreverence. Scattered across the gallery walls of Santa
Barbara’s Jewish Community Center is Point. Click. Laugh!,
an exhibition of photographic works by both professional and
amateur photographers that reaffirms this perspective. In aligning
itself with salon photography, a tradition not as feverishly
pursued in America as it is in the rest of the world, the
exhibition throws together an eclectic mix of imagery, all of which
gravitates toward the central theme of humor.

The appeal of themed exhibitions is often in pushing an idea to
its boundaries. The extremes of Point. Click. Laugh! come
not only from the subject matter encompassed, but also by coupling
invited artists with works selected from juried submissions. From
the absurdity of Keith Fishman’s “Nails, Trunks & Footwear” to
the irony of Carol DeCanio’s “Street Closed,” work by Santa Barbara
photographers is featured prominently. And while there are
certainly some worthy presentations from the juried artists in the
show, it is undoubtedly the established photographers who solicit
the greatest degree of interest and attention.

Through a series of six consecutive images, Duane Michals
depicts his witty attempt at mimicking the pyramids. With the
ancient structures providing an alluring backdrop, we delight in
Michals’s attempt to replicate their form through a pile of stones.
The famed Magnum photographer, Elliot Erwitt, is represented via
two photographs — “Bratsk, Siberia, USSR, 1967” and “Las Vegas,
Nevada, 1954.” The former might be the better known of the two, but
it is the latter that resonates. In it, an elderly casino patron
faces off with a slot machine masquerading as a cowboy — with a
drawn gun as the gaming lever.

No worthy exhibition is complete without one special moment of
enlightenment, and for me that came from Dennis Chalkin. Both “Man
Working” and “Evolution?” incongruously celebrate the theme of the
show, and do so with thought and charm. Its heady collision of
styles, matter, and presentation endows this exhibition with true
eccentricity. While some of the inclusions are less carefully
considered than others, the highlights of this show ensure that
there are sufficient causes for mirth. But my warmest smile
undoubtedly came from simply seeing a salon-style exhibition
flourishing here in Santa Barbara.

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