Monday, August 10, 2009

The Wild World of Kenneth Botto

There is a "fine art photography" exhibit in the basement of San Francisco's City Hall where ten curators from the group PhotoAlliance selected ten photos each by a favorite photographer.

I wasn't taken by most of the show, which rehashed most of the cliches of contemporary "fine art photography" such as fuzziness to appear more painterly, but there were a couple of exceptions.

There are a series of slick New York office interiors by Eric Percher which are arresting...

...and photographs of miniature dioramas by Kenneth Botto who was a fixture in the Marin County town of Bolinas until his death last summer at the age of 71.

At first, I thought they were the product of some young person playing with Photoshop, but finally realized they were staged bits of surrealism using plastic toys from his own collection and ephemera from the Bolinas Community Free Box.

Though my taste in photography tends to run more towards what fellow Marin County photographer Donald Kinney is creating at a photo a day, these pieces are endlessly fascinating.

Be sure to check out the self-portrait of the artist Surrounded by Stuff in His Studio. It's great.

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