Saturday, November 7, 2009

Robert Welsh's Chinatown Series of Photography in the Griffin Museum, Boston

San Francisco Photography Robert Welsh, a native of the Boston area, has created a large portfolio of amazing photographs of daily life, particularly from around Chinatown in San Francisco, and from China, where he has traveled. The life he presents is strange, mundane, messy, stylish, tranquil, pulsating, melancholic, joyful, opaque, mysterious or transparent in turn. One often feels that one understands the surface, then something else casts a question on it. He didn't look for exotic artifacts, though. What Welsh presents is the full spectrum of life, a story. Everything has a story to tell, according to him. Even the rustic bathtub, peeling door and discarded button, and empty MacDonald's French fry box. He sees beauty in everything. His senses and treatments of details and colors are amazing.

An exhibit of images from his open-ended series of San Francisco's Chinatown, Chinatown: Metaphor and Memory, is featured in the Atelier Gallery of the Griffin Museum November 12 though January 10, 2010. The exhibit is courtesy of Tepper Takayama Fine Arts, Boston. An opening reception with the artist will be held on November 12, at 7 p.m. It is open to all. A members-only talk at which Welsh will discuss the exhibit is at 6:15 p.m.

According to the Museum brochure and website, "Robert Welsh has a sensibility for the day-to-day lives of people of modest means trying to make ends meet. This makes him able to discover and communicate the beauty, grace, and dignity of those he photographs.

"The Chinatown portrayed in his photographs is permeated by memories from his childhood in Brighton, MA, and is a metaphor for the immigrant experience, despite variation in geographic or ethnic origins. It also recognizes and records the elements of Chinatown, San Francisco, and his wife's Chinese and Chinese-American family, which echo his Irish-American roots. Preeminent are thrift, simplicity, loyalty, continuity, and family ties.

"'We are honored that Robert Welsh has returned home to exhibit Chinatown: Metaphor and Memory where he was shaped in his youth by the streets of Boston,' says Paula Tognarelli, executive director of the Griffin Museum of Photography. 'Welsh's work eloquently contemplates the ancient Chinese traditions placed against a modern day backdrop.'

"Welsh is essentially a self-taught professional photographer and master of black-and-white and color printing. He also has worked as a photojournalist, but his images - such as those featured in a New York Times travel section article on San Francisco - transcend the purely documentary."

The Griffin Museum of Photography is open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 am - 5 pm; Friday 11 am - 4 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, noon - 4 pm. The Museum is closed on Monday. Admission is $5 for adults; $2 for seniors. Members and children under 12 are admitted free. Admission is free to all every Thursday. For more information, call 781-729-1158.

Congratulations, Robert!

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