Photographers explore escapism in ‘Take Me Away’ 

David Gardner’s “Dry Camping” is among the photographs on view in “Take Me Away” at City Hall. Gardner documents “full-time life on the road.” - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • David Gardner’s “Dry Camping” is among the photographs on view in “Take Me Away” at City Hall. Gardner documents “full-time life on the road.”

Even in eccentric, bustling San Francisco, people sometimes search for respite when the walls of routine begin to cave in. “Take Me Away,” a San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries exhibition featuring works by 18 local and regional photographers with unique perspectives on escapism, addresses the issue.

The places pictured are real and imagined and foreign and domestic, ranging from the abstract concentration of watery blue spaces in Monica Denevan’s photographs to people who trade common comforts for freewheeling alternative lifestyles captured in the work of David Gardner.

On view until May 10 at City Hall, “Take Me Away” invites viewers to take a second glance at how people connect and apply identity to spaces, everyday objects and themselves; it also reveals how sanctuary and adventure can be found in the same location.

The show focuses on works by three artists:  Gardner, Rebecca Horne and Alice Shaw.

Horne’s landscapes and still lifes, including a photo of coffee being poured through a stretched tablecloth into a cup below, show something new in what she calls “phenomenological events of the everyday. It also looks like a volcano, which I thought was funny and appropriate for the metaphor of buried emotions and impulses.”

Shaw’s photographs, part of a collection published in a book titled “People Who Look Like Me,” offer a different take at the concept of escapism.

In each photo, Shaw appears next to someone with whom she shares physical traits. The images seem to call upon humans’ universal search for identity and unity, and their desire to find shared traits in each other.

Gardner’s work is from his current project, “Life on Wheels: The New American Nomads,” which, he says, “looks at those Americans who have consciously traded traditional lifestyles of home and property for a nomadic existence of full-time life on the road in recreational vehicles.”

Gardner, who has lived long-term in his own motorhome (which has been christened Carpe Diem), says, “Photographing them with their rigs offers me a unique look into a lifestyle that breaks down traditional notions of home and retirement, that the golden years are something to embrace and not dread.”

Take Me Away

  • Where: San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries, City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, S.F.
  • When: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; closes May 10
  • Admission: Free
  • Contact: (415) 554-6080,

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Katie Kopacz

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