Books

Humor fills glimpse into photography across Iowa

Photographer Barry Phipps’ ambitious and beautiful project traveling the state of Iowa and capturing images of small towns has been collected as “Between Gravity and What Cheer: Iowa Photographs.” Phipps has an impressive eye for composition, and the book is filled with images that reward sustained attention, revealing the commonplace to be worthy of a second look.

As the title of the book suggests, Phipps’ wry sense of humor is on display throughout the collection. A picture of a museum in Orange City with an ornate facade masking a simple warehouse building is placed alongside a picture of Riverside where a banner announcing the town as “Where the (Star) Trek begins” seems to comment on the ways we honor the past and look toward the future — in ways both wholly earnest and slightly disingenuous.

Elsewhere, a house being moved in Iowa City is paired with a Winnebago photographed in Winnebago County, assigning two meanings to the notion of a mobile home.

Phipps sees the project as a coherent whole, writing in the introduction, “These images are, individually, an exercise in photographs not made of something, but composed from something. I see these as individual communications that, when combined into a linear collection through the pages of this book, read as a long mysterious sentence with images on facing pages suggesting connections that would not happen if presented alone.”

“Between Gravity and What Cheer” achieves those goals. The book offers a compelling and original viewpoint of the state we share.

If you go

l What: Barry Phipps lecture and book release party for “Between Gravity and What Cheer: Iowa Photographs”

l When: 5 to 8 p.m. May 4; Exhibit of Phipps’ work starts at 5 p.m., followed by a lecture at 7 p.m.

l Where: FilmScene, 118 E. College St., Iowa City

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