Thursday, March 28, 2013
Photographer Justin Terveen snaps a dynamic Dallas easily forgotten
They call him Dallas' Official Photographer Laureate for a reason.
DALLAS If one were to judge strictly by local photographer Justin Terveen's prolific body of work, it would be easy to assume that he harbors an epic passion toward Dallas. Don't get us wrong: Terveen does love the city that he's called home for the last 15 years. But, the skyline through Terveen's lens, accentuated with time-elapsed starbursts and the shimmering reflection of clouds in its metallic sheen, is like seeing an old friend anew through a budding romance.
Much of Terveen's work is viewable online -- in fact, many of us have likely seen one of his photos without even knowing it. But, soon you can catch his remarkable talent in large-scale, dynamic color through his solo exhibition, "The Urban Fabric," which runs at Kettle Art through April 13.
Terveen said he began shooting in 2004 from boredom "and general lack of direction." Good thing. "I just picked up a point-and-shoot camera to see what I could do," he said.
Today, he is known colloquially as the Photographer Laureate of Dallas. His photos frequently appear throughout the city's news publications, and his "cure for boredom" has evolved into a business called Urban Fabric Photography. But, while he does shoot for profit, Terveen is also known for liberally sharing his work online, often asking very little, if anything in return. "It's kind of developed into a mantra for me," he said. "If you share a lot, it comes back."
Thursday night, he plans to share his work -- some recent pieces along with many taken over the last decade -- in a vastly different setting: the art gallery wall.
"They come across differently when you see them on paper than the digital versions online," he said. "Even for me it's a real treat."
This isn't Terveen's first artistic exhibition. He's shown at Kettle before as well as at the Kessler, but this will be his largest and most ambitious public showing to date. It will include shots from around the city from White Rock Lake to the Trinity Levees -- which Terveen counts as one of his favorite spots to shoot. "They look so beautiful, especially when they're full of water," he said about the levees. "That's probably my favorite vantage point to see the skyline, as well."
Entirely self-taught, Terveen carved a niche for himself based on an interest in architecture and fascination with weather, particularly storms and lightning. He has toyed with video and has increasingly experimented with time-lapse techniques that instill a surreal movement wherein streetlamps and car lights become more like strokes from a paintbrush rather than the rote remainders of traffic congestion.
Throughout his body of work, however, one key element remains constant. Terveen's ability to play the natural world against man-made structures creates a synergy between Dallas climate and infrastructure that is almost impossible to capture without mindful patience.
"I think most people only ever see the city in their cars," Terveen said. "When I first moved Downtown, I didn't drive. Not everyone gets to explore on foot, and that really makes the difference."
As it turns out -- and this is not to detract from his immense artistic talent -- Terveen claims that the breathtaking scenes he so carefully culls from an otherwise quotidian Dallas day are available to us all, in real time.
"Dallas is a beautiful city. You just have to know when to look and where," he said.
Luckily for those of us who haven't quite figured out that formula, Terveen is here to remind us of the dynamic city we too often forget to notice.
Join Justin Terveen for an opening reception on March 28 from 7-10 p.m. at 2714 Elm Street in Deep Ellum. "The Urban Fabric" runs through April 13 at Kettle Art.
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