STATEMENT for Craven Allen exhibition


As America’s civil society erodes with terrifying speed and facts are re-cast as fake, it might seem trivial to dwell on nice pictures of nature. Or - just perhaps - reflecting on nature’s grand experiment now is more relevant than ever.

My own interest in and appreciation of nature’s ever-changing patterns deepens with the years.  Our planet is an incredible laboratory of bio-chemical chance, evolution, and pattern – all in motion. These pictures attempt to evoke a personal view of nature’s fixed and shifting patterns of light and form.

I confess to photographic tendencies of a late 19th / early 20th Century Pictorialist, crafting soft-focus landscapes imbued with a certain romanticism, albeit made with my own processes, and with ample physical manipulation.  I’m most comfortable with one foot in photography, one in painting, and a third in design and craft.

Landscapes in 4/3 time: Jazz is so interesting – any good tune has literally endless variations. I think its structure is an apt metaphor for my perceptions of nature’s cool improvisation: an endless interplay of fixed and variable ingredients.  Walking a forest’s shifting light, energy is syncopated with predictable and unexpected variables.  A great tree’s awesome form bends in the wind. Leaves scatter in gorgeous patterns. Shadows shift and I walk in rhythm with a 4/3 camera to an upward swing and long exposure.  If lucky, a good landscape is composed with the promise of art - and relevance.  

Dan Gottlieb was born in New York City and lives in Durham, NC. He studied art and biology as an undergraduate, and holds a Master’s in Art Administration. He was a cabinetmaker before beginning his long career as a museum designer.  Since 1990, Dan has directed planning at the North Carolina Museum of Art and guided development of its Museum Park.