A Solitary Moment by Dan Murano
67 pgs. $32.95 soft cover, $45.95 hard cover (plus S&H)
Photographs, ©2009—November, 2009
Review by: Grace Cavalieri
A book of photographs by a world class photographer. This is a sampling from a 30-year canon of work: Provincetown, Washington D.C., Zaire, Paris, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas and more. What do our thoughts look like? Dan Murano’s sight is magnified by creating images that will last forever. A photographer who is an artist seeks not only to record, but to present his own longings. What Murano’s photos tell us, is that whatever we choose to see can be presented as story. These photos will startle your heart because they are memories. All of our stories go back and forth across time and Murano has caught flashes in time – as a scribe would, as an historian. And are they sometimes fables? The samples of Gay Pride Day confront themes of politics and society. They tell a tale with love and humor, a story that begins again and again, each time we open this vividly human book. The portraits throughout can only be described as capturing our humanity in its suddenness. What the photographer shoots and then saves is a fragment of thought but with it comes a wondrous responsibility; for what he says of people cannot be unsaid, and mindful of this, Murano’s work prayerfully honors our awkward tenderness.
The “landscapes” – if that’s what we can call Murano’s reverence for nature - are my favorites. How do we measure appreciation? The fog in the trees; a photo wakened by daylight; a path limping through swamp; trees drunk with snow; a glad sky. These are no ordinary sights. These are revelations. We are aware of an absence of judgment in each frame, but a wish for proprietorship. Time has taken a spray of sand, a branch of leaves, in ownership, but Murano wants his lease on it. Why? Apparently, to give to us, the reader, the viewer, the ones who otherwise would probably not know what to see. There must be no art more modest than that of the photographer. He does not insert himself into the view or terrain. In fact, to a haunting effect, he suspends his existence in sacrifice to the eye. Here is where he achieves surprise and anticipation without intrusion. There are words he must not know and therefore sees with his camera … a kind of spiritual grace in an allegory.
The city pictures are lightning rods of where we are and where we’re going. Pittsburgh, the place of Dan Murano’s origin, and Washington D.C., his present home, are social statements of stasis and time. It will all be gone, the photos say, pretty soon, maybe not in our lifetimes, but pretty soon, nothing but these photos will remain. Are these glimpses into eternity? Is this the story he is telling with space and composition as the storyline?
This book of Murano’s samplings satisfies many kinds of people: those who love architecture, those who wish for the endurance of natural beauty, a belief in the dignity of the average Joe and Jane, plus selected styles of present trends. One can only wait for a book on each of these themes, on Dan Murano’s reality and his perceived reality.
I heard an ancient tale once of a man who had a box filled with stories. He stuck holes in the box so his stories could get some fresh air. The box, it seems, might be a camera. The Storyman named the box Angeles (Greek Messenger). This might be a good name for artists who are messengers.
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Grace Cavalieri is a critic and a writer. She produces and hosts ”The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress” for public radio.