Handsomely composed, deeply moving, timeless or inextricably of their time and place; Gordon Baer’s photographs, now on view at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center in a career-spanning exhibition, are all of the above.
Capturing the Essence: The Work of Gordon Baer purports to feature “rare photographs never shown before,” which turns out to mean never shown before in an exhibition setting. Of course these vital pictures have been seen — by those who commissioned them, by newspaper readers, by others lucky enough to have access to them. The Arts Center has done well to bring them together, newly printed and as fresh as the days on which they were taken, to show how our world has looked to a photographer with an enviable eye.
Baer took up the camera at the age of 8 in his hometown of Louisville, Ky., and essentially didn’t put it down until his recent retirement.
Beginning with a small box camera and the encouragement of Brother Josephus, leader of a Louisville camera club, Baer would move on to Nikon and Tri-X Pan black and white film with occasional sorties into color. He graduated with a degree in design from the University of Louisville and in 1965 became director of photographic services for the university. A year later he was in Cincinnati, a staff photographer for what was then the Cincinnati Post and Times-Star, and in 1971 he struck off on his own as a freelancer.
Capturing the Essence is on view at Kennedy Heights Arts Center, 6546 Montgomery Road, through April 20. Find more information at kennedyarts.org.