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Art Review: "Mitch Dobrowner: New Work"

Arm of God, Galacia, Kansas
Arm of God, Galacia, Kansas
Mitch Dobrowner

If you've ever felt the eerie calm before a funnel cloud ravages a row of houses just a block away, or braced yourself while the offshore hurricane creeps toward landfall, you'll appreciate the new batch of spectacular photographs by Mitch Dobrowner currently on display at John Cleary Gallery.

Dobrowner's hero is Ansel Adams, and he photographs a lot of mountain scenes in the Southwest and California. It's pretty stuff--placid, contemplative. But Dobrowner's storm photography is even better for its sense of action and impending violence. He captures mythological cloud formations in Tornado Alley, some resembling the special-effects storms caused by the motherships in alien-invasion movies.

Dobrowner's low horizon line in a photo like Arm of God, Galacia, Kansas characterizes the storm as a supernatural entity. It isn't a new idea. The hokey movie Twister used that "finger of God" language too, but Dobrowner's distance from his storm subjects suggests a more stark and sober mood than the adrenaline-fueled hysteria of a storm chaser. For Dobrowner, the swirling wind and danger is far away. For now, we're safe. But for how long? One photo, Monsoon, Lordsburg, New Mexico, captures a storm in the shape of a mushroom cloud, as if nature is mimicking human destruction, building up enough strength to blow us away.

Through August 31. John Cleary Gallery, 2635 Colquitt, 713-524-5070.

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Catherine Couturier (formerly John Cleary Gallery)

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