Volume XVII, Issue 29 # July 16 - July 22, 2009

Spotlight on Art

July 17 thru 20

Warren’s Color Flowers

Spotlight on Art

by Sandra Olivetti Martin

You’ve read it right. Marion Warren had a fling with color.

We know Warren as the grand master of black-and-white photography. Like all the great photographers of his era, Warren — who died in his adopted city of Annapolis in 2006, at the age of 86 — showed the world so clearly that color seemed frippery.

Warren learned his craft in his native Missouri, St. Louis and the hardscrabble countryside of the Depression. He perfected his art in World War II. But for more than half his life, Maryland was his subject. Nobody could catch Chesapeake Bay better than he did.

He shot in black and white of necessity, in the beginning, but he made many virtues of it. For one, he knew he was making history as it would be read a few years down the road. Black and white, a medium now obsolete, is code for all we’ve lost. The medium is colored with poignancy.

But Warren also had some fun with color. He had nothing against it, but he couldn’t make a colored picture with the darkroom control he exerted over black and white. Late in his life, he played with new-tech color master Richard Olsenius, who digitalized Warren’s archive, including making satisfactory prints of some of Warren’s color work.

So color, perhaps. But flowers?

Yes, Marion Warren was lured into the garden.

In 1972, Alice Trowbridge Strong engaged him to photograph her Annapolis garden on Whitehall Creek near the Chesapeake Bay so that when she could no longer enjoy its beauty in person, she could savor it in a photo album.

Now those close-up flower portraits have been reprinted in weather-proof panels of three sizes by Joanie Surette — Warren’s friend and colleague and managing partner of M.E.Warren Photography — and Sally Wern Comport, who pioneered large, lasting outdoors images for Annapolis Art Walk. At Homestead where Warren hoped to show them, his flower portraits will steal your heart.

Business hours daily with reception 8-10pm Fri @ Homestead Gardens, Davidsonville. free unless you buy: 410-991-0264.
Afterward, the flower portraits return to American Landscape Gallery, 419 4th St., Eastport.