Ryan Weideman and Sarah Stolfa

Silverstein Gallery

The first part of the definition of patron in Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755) is innocuous enough: “one who countenances, supports or protects.” It is in the second sentence that Johnson gets in a dig at his fickle sponsor, Lord Chesterfield: “commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery.” The provider-client relationships on view in “Patrons” are less fraught than those to which Johnson alludes, but are tangled in their own way. Photographers Ryan Weideman and Sarah Stolfa crystallize the transactional nature of the relationship between sitter and portraitist (and between viewer and artwork) by shooting those on the customer’s side of the exchange between, in Weideman’s case, taxi driver and passenger, and, in Stolfa’s, bartender and drinker.

The artists know of what they photograph, having transformed their places of employ into

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