Every July, the Scott Nichols Gallery of photography selects approximately 80 photos from its permanent collection of more than 200 images to highlight in a seasonal show.
Called “The Summer Show,” the current exhibition is rich from both artistic and historical perspectives, and its lineup of major artists — Ansel Adams, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Walker Evans and many more — represents almost a classical presentation of contemporary American photography.
The varied nature of the work also is impressive. Black-and-white works are displayed comfortably with color imagery, and some photos make use of techniques that give them a subtle color tone.
The gallery’s permanent collection has work dating from 1863 to the present; the earliest photos have a particularly distinctive quality due to old, no longer practiced printing techniques.
Alexander Gardner’s 1863 albumen print of an Abraham Lincoln portrait has an off-white background coloring, which adds spaciousness to it and a feeling of quiet.
Adams, 1941 “Moonrise over Hernandez, New Mexico” has an engaging simplicity, as it contrasts gathering darkness with fading light.
In Strand’s 1932 “White Horse,” the title character stands proud in front of a simple white fence in the gathering twilight. There’s a crude, unselfconscious beauty and understated drama to all the elements of the photo.
The show also includes works by younger, practicing artists such as Rolfe Horn. His sepia-and-selenium toned gelatin 2007 print, “Golden Gate Bridge from the Berkeley Pier,” has the rich tone and spaciousness of a painting.