January 9, 2009

The Architect’s Brother: Photographs by Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison

Selections from an exhibit now at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.


Flying Lesson

These aren’t digitally-manipulated images. From the exhibit guide:

[T]he ParkeHarrisons printed their photographs from large paper negatives made by cutting and pasting a variety of images together. The underlying mechanics of this technique–including the seams between individual images–are carefully painted out in the negative. A photographic print is then made, which is often painted with a layer of varnish or beeswax. This genuinely original technique, combined with their elaborate process of set construction, crosses many creative boundaries. The result is a fascinating hybrid of sculpture, performance, painting and photography.

More below, and some links

The Passage


The ParkeHarrison’s website


Some brief remarks by me.


  1. Lucy Foley on January 9th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    This is thrilling. Reminds me of recent Tom Waits photographs, lately he tends to favour exactly these kinds of scenes, remarkably so.

  2. Cindy Scroggins on January 9th, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Oh, John, thank you. These are amazing. I’ve seen some of their other (color) photos, but nothing like this.

    The ParkeHarrisons have photos at the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago. I’ve long wanted to visit that gallery (they also present works by Joel Peter Witkin and other photographers of the strange and grotesque).

    Sheila, have you been there? Will you go there for me and tell me about it?

  3. Sheila Ryan on January 9th, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Cindy, I’ve not been to the Catherine Edelman Gallery in a while, but I hope to be there next month maybe. If I make it, I’ll submit a special report just for you.

  4. Cindy Scroggins on January 9th, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Thank you, Sheilababy. That would be swell.

  5. Cooper Renner on January 9th, 2009 at 3:36 pm


  6. John Buaas on January 9th, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Glad y’all like them.

    Cindy, some of the color ones (the Gray Dawn series) were also in the show, but I preferred the b&w ones more: the starkness of the settings brought forward the pictures’ themes more, I think.

  7. Daryl Scroggins on January 9th, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Splendid post, John. Thanks. And Lucy–have you seen the Tom Waits series of photographs of stains on pavements? I’ll have to look around for them; I saw them in a magazine he guest edited several years ago.

  8. Daryl Scroggins on January 9th, 2009 at 4:22 pm
  9. Cindy Scroggins on January 9th, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    John, I agree completely. The black-and-whites have a surreal, ancient quality about them that’s just astonishing.

  10. Phil Bebbington on January 9th, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    These are amazing. I have long been an admirer of Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison. It’s odd how you admire work almost from afar and then suddenly, discover that others are of a like mind. That always moves me and I get as much from that as I do the photos.

    John, thank you.