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In Every Moment: Scott Strazzante's 'Shooting From the Hip' at Gage Gallery

By Carrie McGath in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 17, 2014 3:00PM

Privacy is a kind of nostalgia nowadays, a trope of another time. Diaries used to be locked and hidden under a mattress, and photographs were cherished heirlooms in scrapbooks and domestic spaces. "Shooting from the Hip," on view now at Roosevelt University's Gage Gallery, is an exhibition of photos by Scott Strazzante, the award-winning Chicago Tribune photojournalist. Taken with an iPhone camera, the resulting black and white images of Chicago and the diverse landscape of the people who populate it, seduce viewers to ponder isolation, intrusion, and voyeurism.

The slightly somber tone in these images may speak to Strazzante himself feeling nostalgic, even cynical, but also invigorated by the immediacy and democracy of images in our present day. The complexity of each photograph, and the show as a whole, is all-encompassing. With the city alive just outside the gallery, the quietude while inside of the exhibit forces one to pause and appreciate the moment.

The sumptuousness of the black and white conveys a distinctly Midwestern kind of gothic, exuding a warm and familial flavor that so actively drums through Chicago's veins. These are not just "urban scenes," but particular to our fair city in its edginess, rough weather, and unpretentiousness. The atmosphere of "SFTHrainyday" and "SFTHblondie" beckon the romanticism of Dorothy Norman and Alfred Steiglitz, while "SFTHkitten" and "SFTHcompanions" invites the familiar, easeful warmth of a Vivian Maier.

The texture and composition make it a part of "fine art photography," and the fact the artist captured these with quick-eyed thinking and unabashed spontaneity is enviable. We all need to watch the world as closely as Strazzante. His use of hashtags in titling each work continues the idea of the democracy of our 21st century medium of sharing.

His incredible eye in finding and holding an instant, detecting and conveying the palpable souls of strangers, and his Zen-like observation of absolutely everything makes this show deep and engaging. Here is our city laid bare and shown just as it is: beautiful, varying, and manic in mood.

Through August 30th, 18 S. Michigan Ave.