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Sponsored / June 14, 2021

Two Canadian Photographers Find Their Muse in the Search for Place and Connection

Brendan Meadows, Alterity, 2018 Brendan Meadows, Alterity, 2018. © Brendan Meadows.

If you ask photographer Bryan Helm what the key to his success has been, he’ll tell you it’s all rooted in kindness and patience: Be the first to turn up and the last to leave and you’ll get the shot while making friendships along the way. Photographer Brendan Meadows, a self-described inspired wanderer; a collector of people and places; and a catcher of beauty as it changes has found success in his pursuit of human connectedness. Helm and Meadows both divide their time between Canada and the US and are years’ long friends with a shared respect of the other’s work. As such the two are perfectly suited to exhibit at The Cardinal Gallery for the 2021 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

Brendan Meadows “Alterity” June 18 -July 18, 2021

Bryan Helm “FTW-Forever Two Wheels” July 22 – August 22, 2021

Brendan Meadows, widely recognized for his technical expertise and passion for the purist level of the medium (Erwin Blumenfeld, Man Ray & Frank Ockenfels 3 are creative influences), presents Alterity, a collection edited together through a series of experiments challenging the boundaries of photographic aesthetic. Alterity commands the viewer to consider the technical properties of both print and digital photography – aesthetic is not taken for granted. The Cardinal Gallery exhibition includes 8 silver gelatin selenium-toned lith prints and the first solarized digital output to be used for the photographic medium. Manipulating the photographs with the Sabattier effect results in an image that is part negative and part positive. Also included are 23 tri-toned gum bichromate prints of extraordinary quality.

Much of Meadows success is based in the entertainment industry where his images expertly convey his ability to elevate mood above celebrity; his eye doesn’t pander, instead it balances and levels all subject to equal importance so that the art direction, the message, comes to the forefront. This ability to create the comfort, to find the humanity in all his subjects allows Meadows to seamlessly shine in his ability to convey the message.

Bryan Helm, Bryan Helm, Billy Lane, from "FTW — Forever Two Wheels", 2020. © Bryan Helm.

Photographer Bryan Helm also started in advertising and continues to work with clients like Coca Cola and Jaguar. But Helm’s love of speed and design, and a draw to the subversive fringes drew him to the motorcycle and racing communities where he has documented motorcycle culture for over 20 years. FTW-forever two wheels showcases the images that Bryan has captured over the years, chronicling the unique characters, beautiful motorcycles, stunt riders, racers, and celebrity bike builders he has encountered riding his Harley across the country to bike rallies and vintage races. Through Helm’s eye both bike and rider share the focal point, while the dust, the speed, the anticipatory moment before the finale are firmly situated as subtext. Helm’s photographs ride high and resonate with excitement and possibility. As a topic of exploration FTW-Forever Two Wheels might create an expectation of stereotypical masculine energy or boyhood enthusiasm, but in fact Helm’s work is quite the opposite. FTW-Forever Two Wheels is wholistic in its element and expression and is totally void of cliché.

The black and white images displayed in FTW-Forever Two Wheels were captured over the years in both film and digital. The digital imagery is converted to a physical negative and contact printed on fibre base paper. Then traditional and vintage printing processes are used for the final photograph. Processes that give the image a warm toned black and white look perfectly suited to the subject matter. Color imagery is printed as C-Prints or the digital captures are Chromira C-Prints.

These techniques are also wonderfully showcased in Helm’s portraiture where he captures the individual in their element with a feel that he has photographed them in a safe place that he, possibly before the subject, has just recognized. Helm captures moments of bright, honest, edgy expression. A scream, a laugh, pride of place, a bike racing toward the camera at impossible speed, all an immersion into someone else’s best moment.

The Cardinal Gallery is a creative exhibition space with a focus on showing limited edition fine art photography as well as providing an inviting event venue for the arts community. The Cardinal prides itself on having an approachable and inclusive atmosphere.

​Situated in a restored storefront of a historical building at 1231 Davenport Road in Toronto’s West Side, we are located just north of the eclectic Geary Avenue strip and the equally diverse neighbourhoods of Wallace Emmerson and The Junction Triangle.

Instagram: @thecardinalgallery