'Apprehending Nature / Nature Apprehending' 

Eric Breitenbach's photos christen SMP's new gallery at Lyonia Environmental Center

click to enlarge Eric Breitenbach, "Untitled"
  • Eric Breitenbach, "Untitled"

Eric Breitenbach, Apprehending Nature / Nature Apprehending

through March 17
Lyonia Gallery
2150 Eustace Ave., Deltona

Those who appreciate Florida nature find compelling beauty in the morass of plant life that quietly crowds the limited environments where it can flourish. Vines crawl up chain-link fences; flowers sprout out of cracks in the sidewalk. The plants strangle one another, and the tendrils crawl up any inviting surface.

For Florida photographer Eric Breitenbach, this relationship between man's constructions and the natural environment was difficult to ignore, and so he found himself increasingly focusing on the aggressive nature of Florida vegetation in reclaiming forgotten and abandoned properties, like truck stops, apartment complexes and strip malls. Breitenbach vocalizes this intrigue in two photo series that face one another in an exhibit space newly opened by the Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona Beach at the Lyonia Environmental Center in Deltona.

The first, Apprehending Nature, comprises traditional silver-gelatin darkroom prints – extreme close-ups of plants in the artist's backyard that are at their most stimulating when at their least discernible. These abstract black-and-whites treat the camera as microscope and forgo documentary-style photography in favor of experimental risk-taking.

His second series, Nature Apprehending, zooms back out to insist on a shared observation between photographer and viewer: Nature is more resilient than man. These warmly hued digital prints capture downtrodden scenes of neglected edifices, which are all too familiar, but Breitenbach offers a new lens for fresh observation. Both series reflect the ambition that the Lyonia Gallery will be used for SMP exhibitions that document our land use, offer environmental commentary or document local history.

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