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Gary Boas, martin sheen, date unknown


Gary Lee Boas; Starstruck: Dilettante Press & Deitch Projects New york, New York

Gary Lee Boas has spent his life in pursuit of the ephemeral–like the best of photographers, he seems to have the best mix of patience, composition, and a quirky sense of timing, all of which combine to produce not only a picture, but a "moment". His brightest are catalogued and reproduced, for those of you unfortunate enough to be buried beneath the NY life long enough to miss the exhibit at Deitch, in the grandly designed Starstruck; his work is a monument to a life as a voyeur, as a dedicated watcher, as a fan.

"Starstruck" (the exhibit) provided an extraordinary opportunity for that rare bird– understanding, sometimes empathy, through immersion. And not only a potential for complete engagement with the work on display, but for a waist-deep wading into the life which produced that work. It was not so much a retrospective, because Boas' has been so prolific that it would be difficult to imagine an archival retrospective which would do any justice to the energy and endurance, but was itself a snapshot into the figure-ground relationship of Boas and his subjects. His specialty, and the most arresting of the segments on display, is the closeup Polaroid. It is heavyhanded, narrow, and instant– a perfect tool for the starwatcher, and the main focus of the Dilettante Press' Boas book.

The immediacy of the Instamatic, precursor to the instantaneousness of the digital camera, or the webcam, or any other hamfisted shorthands used to denote the post-postmodern technocracy, is also effective as warmth. Its blurred images, mostly recognizable celebrities but occasionally a long-lost pageant beauty, or Boas' mother or himself, manage somehow to capture the real urgency of his effort. That he spent most of his adolescence in front of theaters, or at the side stage door, or at the velvet rope, manifests as sublime energy in the out-of-focus, flash-whitened characters in his images.

This, then, is the bulk of Starstruck: a life in pictures–not professional portraits, but the vision of a fan. And what appears from it is, most certainly to its credit, not only an art series but a lifestyle. The meticulous, bizarre re-creation of Boas' own bedroom in Deitch lends more credence to this, but in the end, Boas' work is its own best testimony. Simplicity without banality, and the ability to capture the obsession of its maker, Starstruck (Dilettante) (and "Starstruck" (Deitch)) leaves us just that.

Brian Glick

New York, New York 2000