By James Foritano
Cambridge, MA – My neighbor in Cambridge was a very quiet guy who turned his considerable intellect towards the psychology of children and childhood.
Who, except his intimates, knew that Ed Mason possessed a kinetic imagination — an imagination that takes the viewer by the hand, inviting him or her down the same rabbit hole that Alice discovered in Lewis Carroll’s curried prose?
Ordinary things photographed and then doctored with photo-shop revealed to Ed, and through his artist’s eye to us, engaging qualities that a quick glance would never credit.
Take an ordinary table and chairs patio set in that cream colored plastic which appeared everywhere about last mid-century to announce a new middle-class leisure style. Then, tip up the chairs around the table as though they’re nesting decorously for the night or a weekend away.
This set-up was apparently license enough for Ed to roam the spaces of said patio with his camera’s eye and document what to others was a non-event.
In his workshop, Ed would decide on a color more appropriate to the “mise-en-scene” he imagined rather than this static and banal reality and “Maddy’s Table” would become green and yellow and even a touch of hot orange. It would become the new green of early spring as well as the darker hues of summer in a fluid seethe that seems to mime the now volcanic, now quiescent
pan-pipe of growth.
This provocative image urges the viewer to find and ask “Maddy” if she did indeed see what Ed saw when she tipped her chairs down to entertain and be entertained by the magic of a semi-suburban evening – by a season which impresses as it evanesces into yet another phase of our quick-silver New England.
If patio furniture, however poetically presented, is not your fare, perhaps you’ll resonate to “Chain Bridge.” Here, Ed’s camera moves so close up to the brawny rivets that bind this bridge together that the viewer seems to feel those rivets popping home.
But since nothing, not even iron and steel, are forever, the color of this structure is a feast of orange rust. There’s a drama here that speaks not only to the material bridges we all cross but also to those spiritual ones that sway precariously beneath our everyday footing.
Never the black and white moralist, Ed Mason in “Chain Bridge” appreciates, to this viewer, both the solid plans that ‘mice and men’ lay down as well as the feisty beauty of those forces which thwart our plans, inviting us to an ever-vigorous regime of maintenance and re-design.
A strenuous eye, both lyric and ironic, records in this exhibition a spectrum of nature as varied as the humble, slow-dancing “Caterpillar” to “South Beach Memories,” drawn with a fingertip of pastel light that mimes and mines that coast’s precious frivolities.
(Ed Mason’s work roosts through April 29th on the white, winding walls of La Capelli Salon at 1776 Mass. Ave, Cambridge. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Call (617) 491-1116.)