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Visual Arts Review: Jerry Siegel

The Hidden Nature of Things: Photographer Jerry Siegel reveals the new in familiar Southern scenes

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Black Belt Panoramas
Photography by Jerry Siegel
On display through Dec. 1
Rebekah Jacob Gallery
169-B King St.
(843) 697-5471
www.rebekahjacobgallery.com

Sometimes you don't realize the significance of a place while you're there.

The surrounding fields, cracks in the street, even the people living there — only when you come back home do you begin to see things that lay hidden beneath the surface.

Jerry Siegel points out these particular things, makes them noticeable, through the lens of his camera in a new exhibit at Rebekah Jacob Gallery called Black Belt Panoramas.

These landscapes, spanning Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas, are lonely and quiet. There are small stamps of human life in each picture, signs almost swallowed entirely by acres of rolling land. Man-made structures rest in sharp contrast to large expanses around them.

There's no human life in any of the photos, just the suggestion that it's still there. Humanity seems to be waiting silently on the edge of the frame, never in a rush to get back. Life has slowed down, slower than the usual Southern way.

The images are large, and the long rectangular frame that Siegel has chosen brings fresh perspective to a familiar photographic theme. It is more modern, sharp, and reminiscent of high-definition TVs now found in so many homes, although the pictures reflecting back show a simpler way of life.

While many photos are concerned with exteriors, a smaller set of photographs showcases the opposite. The interiors of these southern homes make themselves known with antique lamps atop lace linens, galley kitchens with kitschy knick-knacks, and dusty bookshelves. Siegel has found the special details that make a house a home.

There's more here than bucolic scenes of rolling hills and green pastures. These are the pictures of everyday life in a small Southern town, a place that people rarely visit and that some are dying to leave. Visitors find it charming when they pass through on their way to someplace else. Siegel captures details visitors will never see and ones the locals have seen so often.

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