August is the season of culture-lite, when art institutions avoid demanding fare. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of pleasure to be had in comedies performed on park lawns, or orchestras flouncing through Broadway standards, or gallery walls filled with, well, “approachable” subject matter. The current photography exhibit at Corden/Potts Gallery in San Francisco is just such a seasonal delight with double-bonus points for us dog lovers.
“We wanted something lighthearted for summer,” says gallery co-owner Elizabeth Corden about Dog Days: An International Collection of Canine Images. “My business partner, Jan [Potts], has a small collection of dog photographs and a great interest in dogs and we kind of went from there and decided that being August, ‘dog days’ would be a good fit, even though it’s never hot in San Francisco.”
In selecting the 21 images by 15 photographers, they had a curatorial test. “As we were putting together the show, if it really made you go awwwwh, we couldn’t have it,” Corden says. “We wanted to avoid the calendar art clichés.”
They succeeded. From the dreamy images of Susan Burnstine, a Los Angeles based artist who makes her own cameras, to Aline Smithson’s hand-colored photographs of a woman with a dog a la Whistler's Mother (“she has a great sense of humor and a very patient mother,” Corden says), the photographs are moody, elegant, funny and astonishing—like our dogs. Among my favorites are two theatrical portraits by Vee Speers, an Australian living and working in Paris, and Dog by Italian Giacomo Brunelli, from his series, Animals.
Dog Days runs through Aug. 28 at Corden/Potts Gallery, 49 Geary Street, Suite 211, San Francisco (Tues.–Sat., 11 am to 5:30 pm). If you’re not lucky enough to be in the Bay Area, visit the website to see all the images in the show.