Who: Lawrence White
Where: The Grove, on Lake Avenue.
Q. Where are you originally from and when did you come to Saratoga?
A. I’m originally from California. I was living in New York City and first came up to Saratoga in 2002. I was very sick from the terrorist attacks and there was no business (in downtown New York). At that time, Jacques Burgering, who was the director at the National Museum of Dance had been my neighbor in Soho for about 10 years. He gave me an exhibition at the museum. At the same time, my doctor said “you’ve got to relocate,” so I was like: well, this is beautiful here. It reminded me so much of where I grew in Northern California.
Q. Artistically, what have you found in Saratoga?
A. The level of culture here is just so high and has been for so long, that you can hook into that line of heritage very easily. As a photographer, I’m always looking for the light and Saratoga is the ultimate light-catcher. Such beautiful qualities of light here, so it makes my job easy. I just go around and visually feast on how light falls here. Another one of the great things about this area is the history. It goes way back but comes right up through the Industrial Age, so you have these great buildings that were once flourishing and now have this incredible texture.
Q. What is your background as an artist?
A. I went to the San Francisco Art Institute and got a master’s degree in ’75. When I was there I worked with some great artists – everybody from Imogen Cunningham to Eugene Smith, Robert Frank and Kenneth Anger. As artists we got to work next to them. Robert Mapplethorpe. Can you imagine seeing them printing seeing that technique and realizing, basically they’re all a bunch of knuckleheads like the rest of us, but they were able to develop their own technique that worked for them. They understood the rules, but the rules were bent to their shape and not the other way around. That was the key of being an artist: to get within the rules, understand them, become a master, but then break the rules in ways that created art.
Q. Tell us about your upcoming exhibition “Saratoga Fantastique.”
A. It’s finding the incredible things that lurk beneath the surface. All these little nuances - things we may have seen before, but places where I lingered on and playfully manipulated the images. For me as an artist, I’m able to stretch my wings.
Q. Having come to Saratoga only during the past 15 years or so you have seen things with relatively fresh eyes.
A. I hope my photographs help people look at Saratoga in a different way than what they might normally see and that this interpretation allows them to absorb themselves even further into their own history. To see things differently - that’s really the key of life. It’s easy to get bored. We do the same mundane things every day, but as a photographer we see light and the way light falls on the same thing every day as always different. The further we dig into that maybe the further we learn about ourselves. And I think that’s the message here. And that’s why “Saratoga Fantastique,” because it is fantastic. It’s not mundane and we should be continually reminded of that.
As artists, we have different tools to express our voice, which comes from the ether, our muse. Our physical body is our instrument and we can have many different ways to express what this voice is. It’s a gift, but it’s temporary gift. My ability to see. My ability to move is very temporary and I can only use it for so long. That’s why I think it’s so important to respect it for what it is. Time. The sand is falling through the glass all the time and we have to be aware of that. It’s precious. Don’t just squander it.
Lawrence White’s “Saratoga Fantastique” will be on exhibit at The Grove, on Lake Avenue. An opening reception takes place 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26. Show hours will be 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, by appointment.