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Wayne Wilmoth: Space Creates the Place

Blackbirds, Photography, 34 x 23
Photography has turned the corner in recent decades, taking its rightful place beside painting as a major art form and fetching big prices in galleries and auction houses. Wayne Wilmoth, a Texan presently living and working in Naples, Florida, and a professional  photographer for two decades, is in the innovative vanguard of the art for his “3-D landscapes.” He terms them thus because his use of individually shot images of an entire location mounted on picture panels positioned at different heights creates a sense  of depth that duplicates the effect of standing in the actual landscape.
    Wilmoth states that his intention is to “freeze a moment in time for others to enjoy,” because, “Many go to places I have been but cannot capture it in pictures, as I do. Many want to go to the places and probably never will.”   
    Indeed, the sense of depth in Wilmoth’s archival digital prints on panels is truly remarkable, since he carefully calculates the distances and vantage points from which he photographs the various components of his scenes in order to achieve their cumulative effect. Sometimes the pictures that he creates can verge on the playfully surreal. This is seen in “Double Window,” where the viewer gazes through the opening in one of the huge sandstone formations in Monument Valley, Utah, at an expanse of sky and an identical formation in the distance, its own opening giving way to the same view in microcosm. Here, Wilmoth appears to comment on the notion of infinity with winning visual wit.
    Monument Valley, the site of the Navaho Nation, where more Western movies have been filmed than anywhere else in the United States, is obviously an appropriate  subject for the artist, with its many natural distance markers. But the quintessential image, from this perspective, is the one simply titled “Monument Valley.” For here is a stunning panoramic view of the monolithic sandstone structures receding in vanishing perspective and making one feel as if he or she has strolled right into this magical place, so rooted in the earth and yet so unearthly.
    Another place that Wilmoth brings alive in one of his most impressive 3-D images is Bandon Beach, on the southern Oregon Coast, home of many majestically craggy sea-stacks with names such as Cat and Kitten, Table Rock, and Face Rock –– the latter, as local legend has it, the face of an Indian maiden ossified in stone by an evil spirit. In Wilmoth’s “Bandon Beach,” the huge sea-stacks recede along the shoreline at dawn, the misty early light evoking a visual poetry reminiscent of a watercolor marinescape by the great British painter JMW Turner.
   It would seem, however, that Wilmoth need not go in search of picturesque locations in order to create such effects. Such is his talent for evoking a sense of place and focusing in on its defining characteristics that he can also engage the viewer thoroughly with simpler subjects, as seen in the two prints titled, respectively, “Yellowtail” and “Blackbirds.” The former captures the swift movement of fish through brilliant blue water; the latter creates the impression that one could walk right out onto the rickety boards of that old pier, footsteps scattering the birds silhouetted on its poles. 
                            –– written by Peter Wiley

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