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In Mine Own Image: Pictures of Me at Photographs Do Not Bend

We never shy away from an opportunity to imbibe before noon, so Saturday was the perfect opportunity to check out the installation, Pictures of Me, at Photographs Do Not Bend's Annual Holiday Brunch. For those who haven't heard, Pictures is just what it sounds like - an assemblage of photographs and other memorabilia featuring the mug of PDNB gallery owner, Burt Finger.

You may find yourself wondering what kind of person creates an installation in his own image.

Finger received his first camera - a Brownie Hawkeye - from his father when he was about twelve and began shooting seriously after returning from Vietnam, where he had met Time-Life photographer Larry Burroughs. Magnetic, Finger perpetually attracts fascinating people, and the brunch on Saturday drew characters from all walks -- actors and filmmakers to fellow photographers and philanthropists, even the occasional colorful accountant. Showing off the installation, Finger said, "This is crazy for a gallery owner - we can't sell any of this. Instead, it is about producing something meaningful and that makes a statement."

And, Finger is the type of fellow who makes a statement simply by walking into a room. Dressed in a sharp suit and with a head full of thick silver hair, he ran through a long list of references, from Greek mythology to Walker Evans to Andy Warhol, who inspired and informed the installation. But, Pictures isn't derivative; instead, it is tongue-in-cheek, a Neo-Dadaist collection that points to the absurdity of life and the various ways that we haphazardly move from one moment to another, never fully seeing the path ahead, but connecting the dots of momentous periods only in retrospect.

In a sense, Pictures of Me laughs at our collective attempt to narrate life while simultaneously celebrating that very process. The collection begins with a photograph by Desiree Espada of Finger gazing into a framed portrait of himself, like Narcissus admiring his reflection in water, and is peppered with similarly lighthearted pieces throughout. For instance, Esteban Pastorino Diaz reappropriated a screenshot from The Magnificent Seven, with Finger's face on Charles Bronson's body. But as a whole, in conjunction with sentimental pieces from Finger's childhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, shots from Finger's stint in the Army during the Vietnam War and pieces by Finger as a young artist, Pictures ultimately represents a beautiful life lived by a serious artist who, refreshingly, doesn't take himself too seriously.

Pictures of Me runs through December 30th. Stop by, see for yourself and say hello at Photographs Do Not Bend between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

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Brentney Hamilton