Winston Wächter Fine Art’s “Water” exhibit features photographers Harry Callahan, Richard Misrach and Hiroshi Sugimoto, who make us pause and take measure of seascapes in different ways.

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In Seattle, we live surrounded by water. But how often do we stop to take a really good look at it? How closely do we study how it plays with light and hides its depths behind reflective surfaces? How carefully do we consider the way it fuses rhythmic order and rogue-wave anomaly in a single shifting entity?

In Winston Wächter Fine Art’s new show, “Water,” photographers Harry Callahan, Richard Misrach and Hiroshi Sugimoto make us pause and take measure of seascapes in different ways.

Misrach is the most expansive of the three. He has only a few photographs in the show — but they engulf you.


“Water”: Works by Harry Callahan, Hiroshi Sugimoto & Richard Misrach

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays through July 12, Winston Wächter Fine Art, 203 Dexter Ave. N., Seattle (206-652-5855 or

“Untitled (July 28, 2012, 3:47 p.m.)” and “Untitled (July 27, 2013, 4:10 p.m.)” – both pigment prints mounted to Dibond (an aluminum-composite material) — show floating figures in balmy seas.

The water in the first image is a milky turquoise, but in the latter it’s a vast, transparent aqua-blue lens. Its single figure, a supine Ophelia with her arms flung out and her dark hair sprawling, provides the only clue as to which way is up and which way is down. Stare at the image long enough, and the dark reefs at its upper right-hand corner seem to lean out over the bright sand-bottomed water like a ceiling’s shadow. This lazing swimmer, it seems, may have let go of her last connection to land.

Misrach’s “Untitled (Blackwater I)” is the purest image in the show. It’s an overhead shot of intricate black-green water-ripple whose surface contours seem to accommodate whole archipelagoes of light and dark. The reflective highlights and shadowy dips are separated by surprisingly sharp borders. Misrach’s frieze of this shape-shifting changeability suggests how infinite all its possibilities are.

Harry Callahan is the biggest name in the show and is represented by some of his classic images — most notably “Eleanor, Chicago,” a 1949 image of his wife (and lifelong muse) rising from the waters of Lake Michigan, her eyes closed, like some dreaming mythical creature.

Callahan’s gelatin silver prints are surprisingly small in scale. Still, they lure you into vast spaces.

In some, humans appear only as tiny specks. It’s not until you spot the beach-walker and his dog in one of his Cape Cod photographs that you realize how colossal the breakers are just offshore. In several images, he dispenses with human presence altogether, entering semi-abstract realms as he explores stretching plains and shallow swells of sand and surf — some so featureless that you can’t get a handle on the distances involved.

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s black-and-white gelatin silver prints are more severely minimalist. He seeks out uncluttered horizons — lightly blurred by a sea-haze in “Sea of Japan, Oki,” sharply demarcated in “Caribbean Sea, Jamaica” and “Sea of Japan, Rebun Island.”

Walk past “Tyrrhenian Sea, Priano” and “Mirtoan Sea, Sounion,” and you might think you’re looking at solid black overexposures. But these nighttime shots do have barely discernible horizons and color differentiations in them. In “Tyrrhenian Sea, Priano,” the sea is just a tad darker than the sky. In “Mirtoan Sea, Sounion,” it’s a hair’s breadth lighter.

“Bay of Sagami, Atami,” a gauzy study of moon-glow on the water, is the most seductive.

Whichever photographer you prefer, you’ll likely come away with a single thought in mind: Time for another walk along the water.