Patrick Orton is an artist, curator, designer and photographer who divides his time between huis studios in Seattle, WA and New York City. His exhibit of Central Park Seasons features twenty 30" x 40" framed prints. Whether it was sub zero, pouring rain or hot and humid, every season during more than 700 visits, Patrick Orton has been photographing obsessively in Central Park. Selections, chosen from thousands of images in his Central Park Seasons portfolio, (2005-2012) will be on view at Robert Anderson Gallery, New York.
Mr. Orton was born in Los Angeles in 1948 but spent much of his life in the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver Island, Canada. He was educated as a painter and is self-taught as a photographer. In 2002, he moved from Seattle to live with his partner, the late New York artist, Frank Moore.* The day before the moving van arrived, Moore died of AIDS in Manhattan. Grieving, Mr. Orton moved to Moore’s farm located in Upstate New York. The idea for these large, 30-inch by 40-inch landscape photographs was seeded there. Orton states, “ As I learned to work the land, it was natural to take photographs documenting the changes.” He says, “I started by just making a record.” “Then gradually, I focused on light as my subject”.
From the natural settings Upstate, it was a logical transition back in the city to photograph the natural settings in Central Park. “As I photographed, I realized the tremendous complexity of the design of Central Park.” “Unlike the land Upstate, “natural” landscapes in the Park were entirely contrived.” Using Canon G-10 and G-12 digital cameras, programmed for a custom point and shoot format, Mr. Orton became adept at shooting around people, park benches, garbage cans and light posts, in order to create images reminiscent of 19th century photogravures and the solitary experience he had Upstate. Production of the photographs was decidedly low tech. Final compositions were framed in the viewfinder, never cropped. Technical manipulation in the studio was limited to exposure adjustments, shifting the print to raw umber color and touch up, nothing more. The images are printed on Moab Somerset Museum Rag paper using archival, pigment-based inks.
*Toxic Beauty, The Art of Frank Moore is currently on view at the Grey Gallery and Fales Library at NYU, thru December 8, 2012