Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The critic as artist

My friend and fellow blogger Greg Cook seems to be branching out from art criticism to the thing itself - or at least that's how I feel after checking out a recent post on his blog, The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. Above and at right are two images from a set of photos he took up at the St. Peter's Fiesta in Gloucester a week or two ago.

You see in addition to being a damn good critic, Greg's a kind of social documentarian; he loves stalking the natives - the kind you don't find at art galleries - and photographing them in their natural habitats, particularly when they're celebrating, or improvising their own un-self-conscious aesthetics. Which explains how Greg went all Margaret Mead on Gloucester, capturing several quite striking images of a fiesta that's half religious festival and half wacky frat party (the triumphant young gentleman above had just won the "greasy pole contest"; that's St. Peter at right, presiding over the fireworks in his honor). 

Greg has always had an eye, but these may be his best work yet - I feel like I've actually been to the fiesta myself, and several of the images are emotionally powerful yet quite complex in their bemused detail.  I'm hoping an exhibit - or maybe even a book - will eventually come out of his predilection.  (Only I've told him he can't review it himself.)

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