On the surface, Smith Galtney and Matthew Papa have a lot in common. Both are middle-aged gay white men in committed relationships, and both graduated from the International Center of Photography in New York. On Friday, they’ll be at Speedwell Projects in Portland to talk about their differences.
The two photographers are showing work that offers a glimpse of their separate lives, which in their day-to-day routines could not be more different. Galtney has a settled life in Raymond and enjoys a rural lifestyle that involves a lot of staying home. Papa lives in New York City and has an active life that reflects the vibrancy of the city.
On view through Sept. 1, their show is called “The Loved Ones,” because it reveals the intimacy of their lives with images of their partners, families and other people they love. They’ll share stories of their lives and talk about their work from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at the gallery on Forest Avenue.
In an era of marriage equality, Galtney and Papa share themes of desire, domesticity, identity and family. Gallery owner Jocelyn Lee paired them because she thought it would be interesting to explore the similarities and differences through their photographs. Galtney comes from a street-photographer tradition with a snap-shot approach. Papa’s photographs are formal.
“Photography is an expression of our subjectivity,” Lee said. “It’s our lens on the world, and it’s always edited by our likes and dislikes.”
We see it in the work.
Papa’s sexuality is reflected in his photography and is central to its theme. His nude portraits celebrate the human body and express love and intimacy through carefully controlled frames that reflect the artist’s consideration of every detail.
Galtney doesn’t hide his sexuality, but it’s less obvious. These are photos from everyday life at home with friends, family and the family pet. The closest thing to nudity in Galtney’s photos is a single image of his partner’s backside.
Lee calls Papa’s photos “more confrontational,” whereas Galtney’s are quiet, but both share authentic moments that open a window on gay marriage. “The Loved Ones” celebrates those moments, and the journeys both men have taken on the road to middle age.
WHEN: On view through Sept. 1; gallery talk from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Speedwell Projects, 630 Forest Ave., Portland