Eyelevel Gallery continues to promote contemporary art outside of a formal gallery space by exhibiting Under the passing stars at The Maitland Terrace. The works of Steven Beckly and Nicole Kelly Westman meet in a domestic setting that reflects the themes of historicity and intimacy present in their photo-based installations.
Gallery director Katie Belcher recognized a relationship between Beckly and Westman's individual submissions and wanted to bring them together as a single exhibition. "Both use collected imagery and archives which gives them an inherent sense of longing," says Belcher. "There is an oblique romance and a kind of poetry in both of these works which I find a rare gem in contemporary work."
Beckly re-imagines and re-presents antique photographic portraits to depict same-sex couples. In one image an Oscar Wilde-ish young man peers over the shoulder of a bearded, conservative type. A certain affinity is implicit in the proximity of their faces—the viewer can almost hear the secrets whispered from mouth to ear and feel the breath move from nostrils to neck. These portraits permit the viewer a kind of voyeurism into a queer past that both does and does not exist.
Beckly's works are paired with Westman's inherited archive. Westman offers a collection of washed-out mid-century snapshots and corresponding back-of-the-photo annotations. It's as if the viewer has happened upon a family photo album at a jumble sale—the history is familiar and strange at the same time, nostalgic and alien.
Under the passing stars will interact with the homey, exposed brick walls and hardwood floors of The Maitland Terrace. "We're trying to support this quiet and vulnerable content by shifting how it is presented," says Belcher. "The exhibition space, a historic town house, may provide a more intimate setting than a traditional gallery."
Under the passing stars Steven Beckly and Nicole Kelly Westman
Opening reception February 20, 7pm
February 21-April 19, Tuesday to Saturday 12-7pm
The Maitland Terrace, Suite 100, 2085 Maitland Street