Manhattan Times Art Review: Sky Pape Photographs

Art Review Sky Pape in Manhattan Times

The Photography of Fleeting Moments
Review by Mike Fitelson, The Manhattan Times, February 17, 2005

The quiet color photographs of Sky Pape currently gracing the lobby of Hebrew Tabernacle invite the viewer to places he’s never been. Sure, viewers may have visited the locations where Pape carried her digital camera, but it is unlikely they saw what she did.

The Inwood resident found open spaces momentarily transformed by incident. Light dances around the hulking iron sculptures at the Dia:Beacon museum upstate. Clouds float through a river gorge in China. Even familiar locales are changed, such as Highbridge Park, bathed in fireworks during last year’s Uptown Arts Stroll opening reception. Some of the images depict institutions that have collected her artwork (her fine art drawings are internationally renown), such as the Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Museum. But there are also a couple of curious street photographs, including one of a weathered handmade sign ridiculously advertising: “PEN CAP FOR SALE 35¢.”

Most of the 18 scenes in the exhibit would not have looked the same a minute before or after she recorded it. The wind would’ve blown. The lighting would’ve shifted. Things would’ve been different. In this sense, the photographs depict the fragile architecture of moments.

Pape’s text hints at her purpose: “I am most pleased when someone says my photographs act as a reminder to tune up one’s awareness and look at things in new ways.”

Midway through the show, Pape seems to send a message to the viewer: She has photographed on a blue-sky canvas a skywriter spelling out “WISH YOU WERE HERE” in a gentle arc. Residual lettering from the plane’s earlier pass has been smudged into illegibility by the wind. Pape is saying that these scenes float past every day unnoticed unless we take the time to open our eyes.