The Urban Unseen
March 26, 2010

Last week friends and I ventured over to the Thatcher Gallery, located in an otherwise dead space at USF’s Gleeson Library…  if it weren’t for the art.  The current exhibition, The Urban Unseen, comes down  April 25th, so you have plenty of time to make your way over for a viewing, unless, of course, you are a master procrastinator.  In that case, I can’t help you.  I can only steer you in the direction, I can’t give you the gas to go.  The Urban Unseen, a mix of photography, drawings, video and architecture.

Moshe Quinn, The Urban Unseen

The videos were really not worth my time and the architectural elements  piqued my interest a little.  The photography by Moshe Quinn, however, and the drawings by Paul Madonna were very much worth our viewing efforts.

Quinn’s photographs were, for the most part, black and white and peering skyward through the seemingly invisible and unused spaces that are so commonly found in between buildings of San Francisco.  The photographs are well made, the gradation of light, the silver, and detail abounds.  More importantly, though, they invoke a conceptual way of looking at space.  The photographs create palpability for the unpabable; a presence to the unpresent.  In real time circumstances the space is visual white noise to us, in Quinn’s photography the space becomes object and the objects, i.e. the buildings, take on the role of visual white noise.

The drawings of Paul Madonna, most known for his All Over Coffee work, accompanies the photographs quite successfully.  There was only one instance that I thought differently, but since it was debated a little between me and my fellow viewing companions, I ought not to dwell.  Madonna’s drawings are imperfect in the most perfect way —  perspective isn’t the focus, architectural lines skew here and there, and the line he draws with wavers —  leaving a final product that is unquestionably accurate.  He draws the same types of unseen architectural spaces, from a pedestrian’s perspective.  His wavering lines capture San Francisco architecture perfectly; the distinct buildings that give the city the character it is famous for are just as waverly in person.  He is able to capture decades of architectural settling and tectonic shifting, what is truly San Francisco’s urban unseen.

Paul Madonna, image from All Over Coffee