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New Canaan Library

Street Matters

Photography by Romy Ashby and Phyllis Sinrich. On display May 7 - June 14, 2015

What is street matter, and why does the street matter? We have much to learn and celebrate with this show of urban photography by Romy Ashby and Phyllis Sinrich.

Ashby’s tender images depict a rapidly disappearing city. The affection and wonder with which she meets her subjects is so great, each picture so replete with its own narrative, that it’s almost as if you can hear music playing in the background. Their sound nearly audible—from Gershwin to the Blues, a deep radio voice, the rhythm of pedestrian beats—each picture points to the majesty of ordinary things. (No surprise that Ashby is also an author, songwriter, and fantastic storyteller.) There are dignity and seriousness, humor and high jinks here as Ashby records the matter of these streets: workers taking a break or plying their trade in the lonely after hours, cats on neighborhood watch, storefronts that correspond to mundane needs. Her images wax poetic and in their loveliness make us wonder, What happens when this is gone? As all this vanishes, what is it in us that is vanishing?

The vitality of Sinrich’s streets pulsates in painterly captured reflections, layers, and juxtapositions that reveal what’s there, vibrating beneath the surface. New buildings combine with old, the past peels through to merge with the present, unlikely pairings manage to coexist. In Sinrich’s work, the street becomes a kind of blueprint for human interaction and creativity, a metaphor of what’s possible. (No surprise that Sinrich has a background in planning and design.) Sinrich’s abstract photographs zero in on the luminosity and texture of her subjects, inviting us to carefully consider how the multitudinous strands get woven into whole fabric. The pictures tell us how it’s done, how the matter of the street coalesces into culture, how the life of the street brings us into relationship with one another.

Street Matters