Portraits were never a specialty for Baltimore photographer Ben Marcin. Neither were shooting weddings or bar mitzvahs. Instead, his thing has always been taking something ordinary — like a parking garage, a stairwell, even a crack in the sidewalk — and making it appear extraordinary.
Marcin’s different view of everyday life will be on display in “Structures,” an exhibit at C. Grimaldis Gallery until Dec. 23.
“‘Structures’ has to do with buildings, museums, parking garages and office buildings we walk around all the time, but don’t really notice,” explains Marcin, who admits he shot most of the pictures with his phone, since his $4,000 camera wouldn’t be as effective in the dim light. “All these structures where we store our goods or park our cars are all not interesting by themselves. But I’ve created another way of looking at them.”
Marcin has lived in the Baltimore area for 40 years after a childhood in Germany, thanks to his father who worked for the CIA. Marcin’s last exhibit at the C. Grimaldis Gallery was “Last Row House Standing” in 2015, which documented the sole survivors of former row house blocks in Baltimore, Philadelphia and New Jersey. He has been a Sondheim Prize finalist four times.
For his latest work, Marcin would take hours hanging out in these venues, occasionally running into police and other security officials wondering just what it was he was doing. The result is a series of grids of each structure. Like his shots of an art museum —minus the art. “I wanted to make a work of art inside a museum without the artwork itself. That includes the floor, ceiling and lights.
“I’d spend a whole day in there. You might think I’m neurotic taking 240 photos of a museum or a stairwell. But when you go in there and shoot from all these angles, the end result is beautiful.”
See more of Ben Marcin’s photos at C. Grimaldis Gallery.