Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

J. John Priola

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The strongest of J. John Priola's 17 photos at Schneider, six images of San Francisco windows seen from the outside at night, provocatively place the viewer in the position of voyeur. The window is invitingly open in 15th Street, 2nd Floor, and the details we can see--an orchid, a poster with the words "Chicago International"--arouse a curiosity that won't find answers. The window in Kearney Street is covered by curtains, yet the silhouettes of plants inside are visible on the sill. Even more seductive are Priola's blacks: the deep matte black that surrounds the centered windows and the smooth, weighty black of the frames, which he makes himself. The frames have small diagonal seams at each corner that lead the eye inward, through the concentric rectangles of frame, print, and window, and the central patches of light appear to float in a measureless void. Each picture suggests the camera obscura, from which modern photography evolved, and Priola's four-by-five camera box, in whose center an image is formed--transforming the windows into evocations of the medium's fragile magic. Schneider, 230 W. Superior, through February 22. Hours are 10:30 to 5 Tuesday through Friday and 11 to 5 Saturday; 312-988-4033.

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