Exhibit: Full Blown Romance

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From the February 9, 2012 edition

Whether your ideal of Valentine’s Day romance involves a bouquet of roses, a gift of lacy undergarments or some naked time well spent, the latest edition of Muse Gallery’s annual erotica show has an image for you.

“Full Blown Romance,” on view through February, features reclining, meticulously drawn nudes by Tamie Beldue, sweet floral imagery by painter Mario Madiai, and a selection of prints by David Hostetler combining pretty girls with colorful panties and bras.

It’s Chas Ray Krider who claims the spotlight, however. The internationally acclaimed photographer’s work fills most of the small German Village gallery, infusing the space with mysterious narratives and a decidedly cheeky sense of humor.

The selected images represent a mini retrospective of Krider’s figurative works over the past several years. They range from the “Motel Fetish” portraits of models such as Dita von Teese in motel settings wearing vintage lingerie (if anything) to the collages of women, streetscapes and pop culture imagery in his “Days of Noir” series, to a nascent body of work making its gallery debut.

“I was sort of into cinematic narratives at first. I try to put my work in a broader context, so you can enjoy the sexuality but it’s not so obvious,” Krider explained.

With the collages, the photographer expands on the suggested narratives in his posed portraits and borrows some of his favorite images from other artists.

Offering an example from the show that juxtaposes a model with an image of Napoleon painted by Jacques-Louis David in 1800, Krider said, “I’m really fond of that painting. I wanted to look at it all the time but I didn’t want just a reproduction. If I put it in with my imagery, it becomes mine.”

In his latest experiment, the photographer’s images are fixed to hard surfaces under perfectly clear resin, in shapes recalling the tops of vintage coffee tables.

Krider said this series may evolve into actual tabletops.

“I’m interested in art objects, the idea of looking down at a table and seeing one of these pictures. It’s just one of those avenues I’m investigating to move away from straight photos.”

Photos by Alysia Burton