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Nearly Lost, No Longer Forgotten: "From Uncertain to Blue" at PDNB Gallery

Rural Texas towns tend to have unusual names; it is a well-worn trope.

You seen the Eiffel Tower (replete with its own cowboy hat)? Need to get ahold of somebody in Telephone, Telegraph or Dial? They're locked and loaded in Gun Barrel City and Cut And Shoot. We could do this all day. But, let's not.

Instead, let's talk about photographer Keith Carter, whose exhibition "From Uncertain to Blue" runs through February 11 at Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery. PDNB, like all of the CADD galleries, will be open late tomorrow evening (January 7) until 8:00 p.m. As it turns out, "Uncertain" and "Blue" are the names of towns visited by Carter and his wife, Patricia, during a road trip back in 1986, and each shot in the collection is similarly titled, after its geographical namesake. The result was a collection that formed Carter's first monograph, also From Uncertain to Blue (1988), which was re-published this fall, and which provided the founding basis for his multi-award-winning, internationally acclaimed career.

Throughout his body of work, Carter trends toward subjects that are "traditionally" American; but, that is not to say that his photographs are derivative, dull or mundane.

Though "quotidian" or "un-exotic," his pieces invariably capture moments of ineffability, so unique in their individual essence, that it seems clear they couldn't possibly be reproduced in the same manner or by a different eye.

Like all of the best pieces of modernist American art, his shots are "terse," trimmed of unnecessary distraction and focused deliberately on simple scenes, that resonate - often just subtly - with themes of class and poverty, race, aging and death and devastating loneliness. Highlighting a culture on the verge of extinction, a slow-moving moment of agrarian existence, the collection pairs well with a smooth, after-dinner chapter from Cannery Row or Go Down Moses.

So, if you've not had a chance to check out the space at PDNB, Saturday evening is a perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse of Carter's prolific body of work.

Those who've permanently left - even eagerly or adamantly - a small town like Maydelle, Whiskey Flatts or Desdemona will likely feel a certain pang of mirrored, if past, identity.

And those yet unfamiliar with the so "charming" and "quaint" side of Texas, will see with plaintive joy a piece of America, nearly lost, no longer forgotten.

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Brentney Hamilton