I met Stephen Seko at the Phillips Gallery in Salt Lake City, "the oldest commercial gallery in the intermountain west" according to their web site. I’d met Bonnie Phillips in the Bay Area and on my way back from a trip to Boulder, I dropped in unannounced at her gallery. "Bonnie will be right back," I was assured. The gallery is beautiful with lots of room for exhibits. While looking at the art, I struck up conversations with several employees, one of whom was Stephen Seko. It wasn’t long before I learned that he was a photographer. Among a few photos that I’d particularly liked while browsing were two small prints in a downstairs room [reproduced above]. I don’t know how I intuited they might be Seko’s, but they were. They’re part of his series of photos "using normal, common objects"—in this case, found in his daughter’s collection of toys.
As Seko writes, "I am often captivated by the photographic possibilities I encounter; little snatches of light playing on objects, the random arrangement of cups at a cafe. Beauty is all around us and we often miss it in the course of our hectic lives." How true.
Looking at these two images, the phrase "the thing-in-itself" comes to mind, an old fashioned metaphysical notion, perhaps. But if metaphysics has gone the way of the Dodo bird, there’s still the possibility of coming to a moment of seeing in which I’m simply present to what I am looking at. I don’t know if light and shadow are always part of such moments, but perhaps so. But in such a moment, it’s clear that I spend most of my time in some lesser realm of living. Looking at these two photos, I’m reminded of my own moments of seeing this way, each one a renewal.
Richard Whittaker is the founder of works & conversations magazine.
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