Seeing the 'Invisible'

Victoria Donohoe

The Philadelphia Inquirer

2011, FEB 25

Ron Tarver, in his new photo series "Invisible" at Sande Webster Gallery, zeroes in on things in our everyday surroundings we might look at a lot, but don't necessarily see.

He photographs many of these, then scans the images and prints them again. The images of familiar Philadelphia sites and landmarks are surprising in the way they capture significant detail, even at a distance, while omitting most other detail - to the point where some viewers may even wonder if these are watercolors.

What makes a lasting impression with the pale, luminous photos isn't so much the style Tarver, an Inquirer staff photographer, has developed, or the subject matter itself, as the personal mode of feeling that somehow holds style and subject in a single affectionate unity. It's this that remains most emphatic in photos of a signature City Hall window seen from below, a major Germantown Avenue intersection, or the berthed and rusting USS United States.

Can Tarver be described as having in a certain sense "reinvented" photography, because he has created altogether contemporary work that invites us to go for depth as we look around us? Only striking feats of skill could have captured some detail while suppressing others. Moreover, by printing these photos on rice paper or silk, Tarver seems interested in setting things down with tender exactitude.

Also at Webster is a lively, heartfelt exhibit, "The Tiberino Family," featuring artwork by Powelton Village matriarch Ellen Powell Tiberino, husband Joseph, and their artist offspring Raphael, Gabriele, and Ellen.