Review: Ron Kern and Mike Stroup at Midland

Ron Kern's photo of a Carmel grain elevator included in '2 Photographers: Works in Progress.'

Ron Kern and Mike Stroup: 2 Photographers: Works in Progress

Midland Arts and Antiques Market; through Feb. 7

Ron Kern and Mike Stroup, who take photographs of the areas of Indiana most familiar to them, presumably use the word “progress” a bit begrudgingly, given the subject matter of their show — forgotten Indiana towns.

Stroup focuses on his hometown of Hartford City, Ind. His photographs capture the accidental beauty contained within a downtown left behind by progress occurring elsewhere, particularly the construction of a shopping mall in nearby Muncie. His eye is extremely keen, and he captures the ghosts of a typical American small town fairly effectively, although his cropping decisions are questionable at times; buildings essential to the compositions are cut off at the edges in some of the photographs.

Kern’s work is all in black and white, and he also possesses an eye for great photographs. Like Stroup, his subjects portray progress or the lack thereof in familiar places, in this case Indianapolis and other Midwestern locales. Of particular note is Kern’s gorgeous shot of a Carmel grain elevator, which will likely soon face demolition.

Both Stroup and Kern are successful in documenting time's sometimes ravaging effect on Indiana communities - and in illuminating the beauty left behind. The artists write about their subjects, the progress of their photography and their approach to the medium on a well-maintained blog.

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