Fans of burlesque, striptease, drag and general alternative performance won't want to miss John Cleary Gallery's sexy exhibition of Henry Horenstein's moody photography. Simply titled "Show," the exhibit definitely puts one on.
Horenstein, who at one time documented American country music's slide into the pop realm, has always been interested in subcultures, and this show is a grainy, high-contrast series of black-and-white scenes of fetish and titillation.
Horenstein's images don't capture America's heartland at all; everything's pretty much shot in New York and Los Angeles -- there's only one photo taken in New Orleans, which is surprising. I wished there were more of a connection between coasts.
There's a lot of fishnets, pasties, closeups on tattoos, ass shots, piercings, nipples, knife-throwing and flame-blowing, which isn't all that intriguing as a subject -- burlesque and underground carnival acts have been back in vogue for going on two decades now. What makes Horenstein's photos exceptional is his use of shadow, contrast and natural grain, which can't be experienced fully in a digital photo.
My favorite was a photo of a woman's ass, titled Butt, RiFiFi, New York, NY, framed horizontally, with the white cheeks separated by black panties at the bottom lower left. It's abstract in composition; it took more than a few seconds to go, "Oh, it's an ass."
But that's just one example. Horenstein's camera crystallizes the intimate, entertaining, arousing and soulful essence of burlesque.
The show runs through May 28 at John Cleary Gallery, 2635 Colquitt. For information, call 713-524-5070.