James Duval ~ Searching for the Surf
July 19th through July 26th
Opening Reception July 19th
Remembrance of Times Past in James Duval’s Images of The Surf
To mark the 51 years of The Surf’s glory years under the stewardship of the Cyrs, Duval is offering the prints in editions of 51. All materials used are archival. The prints are ultrachrome (digital on fine art paper) or c-prints (color photographs printed in the artists darkroom).
“Searching for The Surf,” James Duval’s 24 images in both black and white and color are his tribute to what Peter Wood called the “simplicity and quiet dignity” of the old hotel in his presentation of the Abrams Award to the Cyr family.
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Duval photographed The Surf from cupola to cellar, from the beach, the street, and the breakwater. His images find the essence of the place in the mundane, such as a close-up of room keys (#10 through #15) hanging from their hooks, and pots and pans hanging in “Bea’s Kitchen,” and in the extraordinary: a black and white image of the hotel seen from Crescent Beach, in which the entire hotel is reflected in shimmering detail in a subtly blue-tinted tidal pool on the beach below the back porch, and in “Night Surf,” a stunning image of the hotel lit from within and along the front and back porches.
The Surf is found in several views of the signature rocking chairs on the porch. One is a grey study of one rocker on a rainy day on the porch; another shows two rockers close together with their straight lines dark against the bright white of the porch rails and carved oval balusters; a third shows a rocker and a flag draped on a pole at the end of the porch as morning light comes across boats in Old Harbor.
Signs also point the way to discovering The Surf. “Cyr’s Cycles” is a black and white close up of the familiar bike rental sign with its meticulous black hand-lettered message on the grainy texture of a weathered board. Another, the large Surf Hotel sign under a gabled third-floor window, is a dramatically foreshortened view of the sign and emphasizes the peaked roof against a cerulean sky and the bronze light blazing in a dormer window.
Duval evokes the character of the place in images that capture the light on the architectural details of the porch. “Upper deck” shows only the white of a post and finial of the railing while the rest remains in the shadows. “Back Porch Study,” in deep indigoes, captures the western light casting in relief the intricate curves of carpenter gothic porch brackets, while beyond, the surf gently rolls in.
The warmth and hospitality of The Surf are rendered in interior scenes that are filled with morning light. “Morning Routine” shows two people in the parlor preparing for the day seen from the perspective of the dining room, with its patterned tin walls, decorative plates, and bentwood chairs. “Morning Coffee” is a study in geometric patterns of color. In the foreground are rows of dark blue coffee mugs against a blue tin wall, in the center are the creamy tin walls of the dining room and the polished swinging doors, one open to give us a glimpse of the white walls and cabinets of the kitchen. In a long view from the perspective of the seat height of the bentwood chairs, the dining room is suffused with a rose-peach light streaming through the large east window.
There are two images of the simple bedrooms that define The Surf. Both show the turned wood bed frames and towel racks, and in one, a lacy cascade of a white curtain filters the morning light. The Victorian elegance of The Surf is found in a black and white image of glittering crystals dangling from the scalloped edges of a lamp shade and in a color print of an ornately scrolled vase and a wash basin and pitcher set on a table in front of parlor windows edged with panes of blue, amber, green, pink, and magenta glass.