For Kelly Burkhardt, moments of stillness are hard to come by. The vice president of operations at TLA Releasing divides her time between offices in New York City and Philadelphia, and spontaneously jets off to fab cities like Paris, Berlin, Florence and London to track down potential acquisitions and scout others to be shown at this year's QFest, an event she's helped program for eight years. So it's little wonder she's sought reprieve in the art of street photography, a part-time outlet that allows her to get distracted, to stop and capture those rare unwavering moments.
It's these blips in time that make up her first solo art show, "Atomic Age," opening this week at Ven and Vaida. The artist submitted around 200 digital photos to the gallery's curator — fellow gay artist Butch Cordora — who whittled them down to 13 20-inch-by-30-inch shots and one 12-piece installation that she says represents her obsessions with Cold War-era propaganda, pop culture and vibrant colors. "When I started playing around with photography, I shot everything in black and white," she says. "But [in] the past two years I really started playing with color." By "playing," she means Photoshopping the hell out of them, spending weeks at a time tweaking filters and hues so the works stand out. "They're really going to pop on the space's white walls."
Among the "poppers" is One Night in a Berlin Speakeasy, a photo of a solitary red phone she spotted at a bar in Germany; Billboard (pictured), a busy, graffiti-ridden street shot in Florence; and Bath-time Barbie, a provocative close-up of the famed blonde that's meant as an homage to one of her inspirations, fashion photographer Helmut Newton. The latter is included in the instillation piece, "Toys," that incorporates images of some of her favorite childhood playthings, everything from a tattered Raggedy Ann and Andy to the John Deere wagon she used to zip along in before she took to hopping continents in an airplane.
Opening reception, Fri., May 4, 6-9 p.m., free; artist talk, Thu., May 24, free; through May 30, Ven and Vaida Gallery, 18 S. Third St., venandvaida.com.