Silver Alchemy exhibit


New Works by Sharon R. Crutchfield, Carra Garza, Polly Harrison,

Tracy Lynch & Charlotte Randolph

Opening reception: Saturday, September 28, 5:30-8:30 pm


Alchemy in medieval times referred to the mysterious transmutation of ordinary metals into gold, a process kept secret from ordinary human beings. In Silver Alchemy, photographers Sharon R. Crutchfield, Carra Garza, Polly Harrison, Tracy Lynch and Charlotte Randolph transmute their differing perspectives as if by magic—in the aphotic recesses of the dark room–into luminous silver gelatin prints. Each artist sees the world differently, yet their individual visions unite through the universal language of light and shadow.

This active group of women artists, having worked side by side sharing darkroom space for over eight years, is unified in their love of black-and-white photography. Although their processes and outcomes vary and involve everything from plastic cameras to mixed media, they are bound, however, in the use of film, darkroom techniques and silver gelatin printing. The paper they print on is coated with a gelatin emulsion containing silver, which, when exposed to light under an enlarger and then processed in chemical solutions, produces the richest of blacks and a radiant tonal range that is their artist’s pallet.

Silver Alchemy, the last picture show of the Fotoseptiembre 2013 season, opens with a reception at Bihl Haus Arts on Saturday, September 28th, 5:30-8:30 pm. The reception, which is free and open to the public, includes poolside jazz by Katchie & Kevin Hess and wine and light hors d’oeuvres. The exhibit continues through November 2, 2013.


San Antonio native Sharon Louise (Richey) Crutchfield graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School and San Antonio College. After Hemisfair closed in 1968, she worked at the Institute of Texan Cultures where she was in charge of the artifacts and created a cataloging system for its large photograph collection. She and her husband, Michael P. Crutchfield (U.S. Army) lived in the Maryland/ Washington D.C. area where she earned a B.A. in English and History and a MLS in Library Science from the University of Maryland, College Park. While working on her MLS, she did an Independent Study at the National Archives in Washington D.C., assigned to work with the U.S. Forest Service’s early photographs. She and Michael lived in Japan and Fairbanks, Alaska. They returned to San Antonio in 1980. That summer she went to work for the Daughters of the Republic of Texas at the D.R.T. Library at the Alamo. She is now retired from her profession as a librarian and certified archivist. In describing her process, Sharon quotes photographer Julian Boulter (United Kingdom): “With my photography I strive to depict the natural beauty of the place I am photographing, the magnificent of the raw landscape, and also the way I felt when I stood in that place with my camera – words to describe these feelings would be uplifted, peaceful, solitary, inspired.”

Alchemy_Garza_Carra.MedCara Garza writes of this new series of mixed media photography that it celebrates “the simple fragments that are part of the larger existence of nature and the environment.”   As an artist, she is “interested in exploring the tension that lies between the intimate spaces as the subject therein. Each image began as a traditional black and white photograph that was taken with a Diana camera. The plastic lens on the camera lends the photographs a dreamy, ethereal quality. Once printed, the images are then transferred and fused on to an encaustic surface. Transfers are metaphors for change, yet the softness of the images address the past as well. These visual haiku’s communicate quiet moments, but those that are on a continuous course through seasons and time.”

AlchemyHarrison_Polly_Natures_Wings_2012_Silver_Gelatin_Print_8_in_x_11_inBlack-and-white photographer Polly Harrison is also San Antonio-based musician. Her interests range from music and photography to exploring the urban landscape. Polly has studied at the Southwest School of Art with Victor Pagona, Tim Suma, Melanie Rush-Davis and Kathy Armstrong. She attended the Eric Renner Pinhole Workshop, the Ralph Howell Pinhole Workshop, the Illford Tone System Workshop, the Susan Riley Toning Workshop, the S.P.E. National Conference (2003), IAJE – Downbeat photographer’s portfolio review (2001), IAJE New Orleans photographer’s workshop (2001). Polly is also presenting a solo photo exhibit at St. Mary’s University titled “Jazz Ensemble” for Fotoseptiembre (2013).

Alchemy_Lynch_Tracy.MedTracy Lynch lived in the Big Bend of Texas for 25 years where she worked as a commercial and editorial freelance photographer, focusing on landscapes, portraiture and architecture. Her personal work in medium format black and white centered on her children and the local inhabitants conveys a sense of the fragile and the authentic. An ongoing body of work, Enigmatic, is concerned with the quirky and playful. Her most recent body of work, Kindred Gestures, is concerned with the universal yet simultaneous individual nature of gesture as a means of conveying feelings and connections. A binding element in all of her work is a sense of grace and wonder. She resides in Boerne, Texas.

Alchemy_Randolph_Charlotte.MedThe Arizona landscape intrigues Charlotte Randolph. As a child living in California, she visualized the Lone Ranger riding across the Arizona desert with his Indian sidekick Tonto, always fighting off the bad guys. The cactus and sagebrush played a part in shaping her romantic daydreams. Phoenix was her birthplace, and while growing up in California she yearned to return to the desert. Over the past several years, that yearning has been satisfied by numerous visits. Recording images of some of the dangerously prickly, yet fascinating cacti, fills her with joy. Many of the images in her Arizona series were photographed in the protected Saguaro National Park in Tucson.

Bihl Haus Arts is a not-for-profit contemporary art gallery located at 2803 Fredericksburg Rd. on the premises of Primrose at Monticello Park Senior Apartments.  Bihl Haus Arts is the only professional non-profit art gallery on the premises of senior 100% affordable housing in the U.S. Our mission: “Creating Community through the Arts.” The gallery is open Fridays and Saturdays, 1-4 pm, or by appointment. Bihl Haus Arts is supported in part by grants from the WellMed Charitable Foundation; Blake, Kimberly, and George Rapier, III Charitable Lead Unitrust; Genevieve & Ward Orsinger Foundation; San Antonio Area Foundation; Shield-Ayres Foundation; Primrose at Monticello Park Senior Apartments; and from private donations.