from "Landscapes, Limned"

by Margaret Regan

Tucson Weekly, October 24, 2013

Charles Grogg, a self-taught master of the difficult art of platinum/palladium photography, is a California English teacher who immerses his students in poetry.

In contrast to some of Yamamoto's tiny images of big plants, Grogg makes photos of small plants, or parts thereof—a bonsai tree, a flower, a leaf—and prints them out big. A single blossom fills most of the 16-by-20-inch paper in "Dianthus"; the tiny tree in "Bonsai (Rubble)," greatly enlarged, pushes up against the top of the print's 36-inch height.

Known for its wide range of tones, the old-fashioned platinum printing process all by itself gives a soft, painterly quality to Grogg's black-and-white photos—and their gray backgrounds are not unlike the inklike washes in Yamamoto's landscapes. Instead of using the usual glossy slippery photo paper, Grogg heightens the painterly effect by printing the images on textured sheets of Japanese paper.

Grogg manipulates his prints, but he doesn't paint on them the way Yamamoto does. Instead he turns them into one-of-a-kind art objects that veer ever so slightly toward sculpture. He cuts what he calls his "fractured photographic images" into nine squares and prints each one individually. Then he stitches the piece back together with waxed cotton thread or beading wire and mounts them on Japanese paper.

Sometimes he adds more stitches along a stem or root, pushing the photos farther into the 3-D realm. And he doesn't necessarily line the squares up precisely. He deliberately changes the tones from square to square, announcing that this is nature deconstructed and then reconstructed through the artifice of art.