JTF (just the facts): A total of 9 black and white photographs, framed in white and unmattted, and hung against white walls in the small single room gallery space. All of the works are archival pigment prints mounted to rag board, made between 2011 and 2013. Physical dimensions are either 12×15 (in editions of 5) or 19×24 (in editions of 3). This is the photographer’s first solo show in New York. (Installation shots below.)
Comments/Context: As a general rule, photography doesn’t do so well with the imaginary. Stand two kids in the yard with sticks in their hands, and in their minds, they might be wizards, or knights, or princesses, or ninjas, but from the camera’s indifferent perspective, they tend to be kids in the yard with sticks in their hands. That’s what makes Scott Alario’s recent photographs so unusual; they capture the engrossing interior magic of childhood imagination with surprising fidelity, even when the props are improvised.
Regardless of whether the central subject of his photographs is his daughter or someone else (himself, his wife, the family dog etc.), his pictures feel like they have been seen through the eyes of the child. Mom wears a head lamp and hold up a plastic ball in the backyard darkness – and we see an astonishing shining moon. Plastic Playmobil toys float on the still surface of the unused hot tub – and we see a kayaking adventure with plenty of danger. The daughter stands atop a stack of piled up deck furniture wearing a paper mask and engulfed in billowing fog-maker fog – and we see some kind of triumphant primordial ritual. Even washing the dishes with Dad can be transformed into something fun if they’re wearing matching aprons and she’s on his shoulders.
Part of the magic Alario is conjuring up comes from his use of multiple exposures and sandwiched negatives. Several versions of his young daughter twirl in the darkness wearing a sparkly cape, the stars overhead multiplied into layers of pinprick brightness. A handful of v-neck t-shirts hang on a clothesline, alternately illuminated by Alario’s headlamp. The dog digs in the mud for a buried white Frisbee in the glare of car headlights, echoing itself and decorated with sparkles. And a nighttime cuddle under the warmth of a blanket becomes a covering of brilliant cosmic light. Each scene is the starting point for a visual fairy tale, a creative pantomime open for fanciful interpretation.
Perhaps due to the young age of his daughter, Alario’s photographs seem more Meatyard than Mann; the innocence is still fresh and open, the ideas still dreamy and participatory. Until she gets older, there’s still plenty of castle building to do.
Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced as follows. The 12×15 prints range between $800 and $1000, while the 19×24 prints range between $1200 and $1500, both ratcheting up based on the place in the edition. Alario’s work has not yet reached the secondary markets, so gallery retail remains the best/only option for those collectors interested in following up.