ROMANS BELIEVED IN GENIUS LOCI, the spirit of a place, and religious cults often sacrificed to their local genius or guardian spirit. Photographer Tom Bovo, whose current exhibit at the 440 Gallery is titled Genius Loci (described by the gallery as “portraying the spirit of autumnal locales”) notices the way each block or avenue of his native Brooklyn derives much of its visual aspect from the collection of plants growing there, the shapes and colors of the leaves and the patterns they make.
Bovo’s view is not sentimental, and the 13 leaf photographs in this show are not about physicial perfection or Vermont Life-like brilliant colors. The prints of his digital photos are scaled up from the actual size—the images are larger-than-leaf, in other words —and they’re both technically interesting and visually compelling.
He had to work out how to photograph the rapidly drying and curling leaves. Eventually he put the leaf (or leaves) between two panes of glass propped in a window and then “placed a sheet of white paper onto the back of the glass sandwich to diffuse the light” coming from behind them, the gallery notes explain. Some of the images are of torn, browning, imperfect leaves.
Tom Bovo studied painting and printmaking with a notable faculty at Columbia University and his own work has been show in galleries across the US, including the Rush Arts Gallery in New York and the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art.
The show is in place at the 440 Gallery until December 1.
SPECIAL KIDS EVENT AT THE GALLERY: On Sunday, November 10, gallery member Vicki Behm will hold a workshop for children 4 to 12 years old to look at Bovo’s photographs and then to draw their own images from actual leaves. What time? Ah, 4:40 in the afternoon, of course.