Ethereal Tacoma

22 Nov

"Reclamation" by Janette Ryan

Janette Ryan‘s photographs of Puget Sound capture an ethereal side hidden behind the hustle of everyday life. Through her lens, the horizon line dividing sky and sea dissolves into nothingness. Docks and pilings become graphic strokes so pure as to resemble a mysterious language of dots and dashes left behind by humans from an indeterminate age. These visual impressions could have emerged from anywhere, or nowhere. Their origins could be post-apocalyptic – or preceding Tacoma’s emergence as a city, when there were no cars, rails or airplanes. Even her images of iconic structures such as the Narrows Bridge refuse to be pinned down – they brim with a dynamism that seems to call back from the future.

"Narrows II" by Janette Ryan

Ryan’s photographs are on exhibit at the Woolworth Building, 11th & Broadway, through Feb. 2012. Her spare, modernist images in black and white attempt to strip away the non-essential to reveal the “beauty and harmony” of nature, she explains. At the same time, they reflect upon “the changing face of Tacoma and the surrounding environment.”

She cites British photographer, Michael Kenna, as an influence. “I love minimalist art and architecture for its clean and simple lines. I was hoping to use those same concepts to photograph our busy urban landscape, with an emphasis on Puget Sound.” Her effects are even more striking when one realizes that the otherworldly landscapes she shoots are mostly popular, well-trafficked sites around Tacoma, such as the Ruston Way waterfront.

"Legato" by Janette Ryan

Though her imagery possesses a zen-like stillness, the weather sometimes pervades it with an emotional quality: silvery skies brood, clouds press down as if ready to burst with violent rain or slanting sunlight. “Most landscape photographers are out on the pretty days with beautiful sunsets or sunrises,” she notes. “I desire storms, clouds, low light, or the moon, for most of my photographs.” The inclement weather often cooperates. “I always watch the sky around the Northwest, and have found that no two days are ever alike….The Sound itself is fascinating to me, and it plays an important role in my work. It changes colors, and with the wind kicking up waves it takes on a personality all its own that changes day to day, throughout the year.”

Humans are conspicuously absent from Ryan’s photographs, with only eloquent traces of activity left behind. “Our cities and waterways are visually choked with congestion and traffic,” she muses, a fact that requires her to sometimes wait for hours in one location for the perfect shot to arise. “I think that my photographs [convey] that sense of time moving on.” And the result is truly timeless. Untitled, 11th & Broadway (Woolworth Windows), Nov. 15, 2011 – Feb. 28, 2012.

9 Responses to “Ethereal Tacoma”

  1. Matt George November 22, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    These shots are amazing. Yeah, I can see Michael Kenna’s influence. Just amazing!

  2. Rifqi November 23, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    Nice, thanks for sharing.

  3. thebigbookofdating November 23, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    Really stunning work

  4. Gregg November 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    Wow!. These photos are so inspirational and surreal! This person has a talent I haven’t seen in a very long time. Are her prints for sale?

  5. Jennifer Lelli November 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    Absolutely breathtaking! Your work amazes and inspires me. Thank you for sharing these images and your incredible talent!

  6. spaceworkstacoma November 23, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    Hi Gregg,

    We agree, Janette’s photographs are one-of-a-kind! Your question has been forwarded to her…

    Thanks, from Spaceworks

  7. Darcy November 24, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Great job, Janette!!! Send me the link so I know where holiday purchases can be ordered. Keep it up, girl!!!

  8. Bob Farmer November 25, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    Wow, It is very fun to see this.

  9. Katie Piatt November 29, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    You’re the best! GREAT work!

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