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