I met wet plate photographer N.W. (Nate) Gibbons at John Coffer’s Jamboree last month and watched him at work on some impressive mammoth tintypes. Today I got to see some more of his work in Surprisingly Natural: The Nature of the Bronx, a group exhibition at the Glyndor Gallery of Wave Hill in Riverdale, NY. Gibbons is showing a series of subtly composed 11 x 14 tintypes of very rich tones that explore the intersection of nature and urban environment in the Bronx.
Surprisingly Natural is actually the title of three concurrent, but separately curated exhibitions occurring across the the borough this fall at the following locations: Bronx River Art Center (Sept. 12th to Oct. 18th), curated by Jose Ruiz; Lehman College Art Gallery (Sept. 9th to December 15th), curated by Susan Hoeltzel; and Wave Hill (Sept. 9th to November 30th), curated by Jennifer McGregor.
Formal Opening Reception at Wave Hill: Sunday, September 14th (1:00-4:00 p.m.).
Text Below: From Surprisingly Natural Catalogue
Surprisingly natural grew out of a desire to explore the importance of nature as an essential element in the fabric of the borough, particularly when the urban landscape is rapidly changing through development and ecological restoration efforts. In planning this exhibition we realized that as venues we all have distinct and ongoing relationships to the nature around us and have been active in the stewardship of our surroundings.
New York City offers many opportunities for iconic and recognizable views and vistas and not surprisingly Brooklyn and Manhattan have a greater pull for contemporary photographers than the Bronx. Indeed photography of the Bronx has focused on either its blight or vibrant street scene and family life. Many of the views presented here are known primarily to residents who frequent these places but all deserve to be better known.
About N.W. Gibbons
Over the past year, N.W. Gibbons has been photographing the Bronx River as part of his River Series that follows the course of a river from its source to its mouth. Using the antique tintype process, he searches out isolated pockets where there is clearly a push and pull between the urban and the natural. The technique gives the image a historic quality, but clearly these are images of the contemporary river.