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Photographer Steve Frances and Architecture Porn

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Photographer Scott Frances counts among his favorite shots in his new art book "MonoVisioN," one of a little girl standing in the middle of a gallery in the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. The walls and soaring ceiling are a study in white, the floor blond hardwood. Gold-leafed religious icons hang on one wall; large, colorful paintings on another. The little girl, wearing a plain green dress and flip-flops topped with bright pink flowers, hugs herself in delight as she considers the wonders around her. The image is one of the many seen in his exhibit "MonoVisioN," currently on display at Decorative Center Houston, all of which come from his book.

Frances deals in what he calls architectural porn. That is, photographs of beautiful homes set in world-class locations with stunning views, or commercial buildings, such as museums or performance halls, that are as much works of art as what they contain. The photographs are stunning, insightful and, he likes to think, painterly.

Frances uses a variety of techniques in his work, including multiple exposures. He was standing in a museum one day, he says, when a group of rough looking men wandered through. "They must have been a work-release program or something," he laughs. A few minutes later, a group of wide-eyed young school children came through. "I thought, 'I wish I could have shot them together.' With today's technology, I can." Now Frances's photographs often feature groupings of people who weren't in the same space at the same time in reality.

The most painterly image in the exhibition is of the backyard view from Estée Lauder's Florida home; it's all fairy-tale pink wrought-iron patio chairs, impossibly green grass and unbelievable blue sea. (According to Frances, Lauder's backyard used to be a freeway. The state of Florida rerouted it so Miss Lauder could have access to the beach front.)

Frances has enthusiastically embraced PhotoShop; he works with technicians for an average of two hours per image in postproduction. That, he says, allows him to capture each aspect of his subject -- the best sky, best building, best background -- and put them all together in one image that would be impossible to get in reality.

See "Scott Frances: MonoVisioN" 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Decorative Center Houston, 5120 Woodway. The exhibit runs through June 15. For information, visit the Decorative Center Houston's website or call 713-961-9292. Admission is free.

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