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"Vivid Vernacular" The photos on display here are by three indisputable masters — Walker Evans, William Christenberry and William Eggleston. Evans, whose groundbreaking 1941 book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (with text by James Agee) documented Alabama sharecroppers during the Great Depression, commences this rather academic exercise. His 1970 "Billboard" is a snapshot of an exterior wall, presumably in London, plastered in show flyers. Christenberry came late to photography as an artistic medium; he was primarily a painter. His stark photos of buildings are austere and unobtrusive, almost reverent. There's a certain sense of worship in photos like Church, Sprott, Alabama (1971), a simple, distanced shot of a rural church. Eggleston is the star here. For one, his are the largest prints — still too small, though, in my opinion. And there's a sense of narrative, too, mostly dictated by where he places the camera. Evans and Christenberry shoot mainly from street level; Eggleston's perspective shifts from floor-level to floating above rooftops. Untitled (Peaches), a 1972 photo, finds Eggleston's lens drifting above a corrugated tin roof, in dead-eye focus with a rooftop sign that simply announces, "PEACHES!" And apparently nothing goes better with peaches than Coca-Cola, judging by the advertisement crowning this roadside fruit stand. Through April 20. The Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross. 713-525-9400. — TS

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