San Francisco

Norm Lofthus and Nancy Haigh

The photos at the Reese Palley Gallery were more Dada Concept-oriented than (properly speaking) a photo show. Norm Lofthus had taken the pictures, and Nancy Haigh had tinted them, not by hand as the ad used to say, but with stencil and airbrush. The sitters were the VIPs of the University of California’s Art Department—or rather that part of them who were willing to indulge in the concept dialogue. Each had to wear the same corduroy jacket and fuchsia and black tie for their posing. It would be possible to guess who wore the tie in what sequence; its condition changed as the concept progressed. Peter Voul-kos was the penultimate sitter and was the hardest of all on the tie. Norm Lofthus himself wore it last and the knot is shredded in his portrait. Each portrait is slightly gauche, as though the sitters were slightly embarrassed by the whole idea but went along with it and even tried hard to do a parody of themselves. Some are pompous, others are grinning foolishly, and Lofthus and Haigh are doing their thing, just like the stars. These stars are as uncertain about their identities as the boys and girls at a Sunday-school picnic.

Knute Stiles