Beginnings and endings. The promise of something new.
In a photograph by Ray Felix, a room with gaudy red wallpaper is empty, as if someone has just moved out. But an open door reveals a small naked space, a closet, where light filters down from above.
Among the 72 images in the 39th annual Photography Regional at Albany Center Gallery, "Red Room Closet" seems symbolic.
Last year, the Fulton Street Gallery, with Felix, as its director, hosted the Photo Regional. Five months later, the gallery closed its doors after 20 years in Troy.
Ten weeks ago, Albany Center Gallery opened in its new home in the historic Arcade Building. The gallery, which has moved four times since it was founded by Les Urbach, is celebrating its 40th year.
Life -- and the Photo Regional -- keeps changing.
For the 2017 regional, the first in this space, 134 photographers submitted 364 images, and we got to see them all for eight days in a floor-to-ceiling, salon-style exhibit before the juried show.
The popular salon was a Fulton Street tradition but the ACG hadn't done such a pre-exhibit since the 1970s. (If you missed the salon, there's a link to a video at albanycentergallery.org)
From the herd, Jurors Danny Goodwin and Tara Fracalossi selected works by 51 photographers.
ACG has increased its space, from 1,600 to about 2,050 square feet. The ceilings are 15 feet high. This ACG Regional is a little larger, too, when you consider that the last one, on Columbia Street, presented 61 works.
It's a strong, straight-forward show. More than a quarter of the images are black-and-white, there are many faces and figures. However, considering the political/social climate, there isn't much commentary.
In the category of "not quite human," we find Julie Pankowski and Brian French.
Pankowski's "Dancers," a molded, coral-like conglomerate of pinkish baby hands and feet on a black background, is visceral and elegant, with a deep porcelain glow.
A distorted image of nude female parts, flesh-toned and stacked like a totem, with a "spine" of white light, is "Hourglass," French's offering.
Among the landscapes, I was drawn to "Cohoes Falls," a black-and-white by Anthony Tassarotti and "Tagged," color, by Deb Hall.
At first glance, you might not recognize our regional cascade. In this closer-than-usual image, the water appears not soft and fluid but carved like wood or stone.
Hall borrows the Facebook practice of "tagging" faces with small boxes, but captures bits of trees, rock and sky instead in an Adirondack-like scene where a rock cliff is marred by white graffiti.
"The Activist" by Jeffrey Perkins is a sobering look at civil rights.
At first, when you see the young African-American man in suit and bowtie, holding up a newspaper, you think the image from the 1960s. But the newspaper is dated August 2015; this image is about racial attacks by police in our country more than a half-century later.
Jeff Lansing's small color photo "The Mall: 9 Cosmetic Counters" screams loudly against the artificial and commercial, the objectifying of women.
And then there are the people.
Sebastian North's "Street Portrait No. 1," an extreme closeup of the face of a middle-aged man, is an attention-grabber, especially as we can't see his eyes behind those cool shades.
"Facing Temptation" by Stephen Honicki, a large color image of a bearded man standing outside a motel room door, reminds one of Jesus or some other spiritual figure, perhaps due to the exquisite light that surrounds the figure's head.
David Bruce's black-and-white photograph of a sleeping man stretched out in thick grass is captivating. The innocence of sleep, the child-like pose elevates his commonness to something quite beautiful.
There are moments of humor, too.
"Doll X-Ray" by Clifford Oliver, the illuminated innards of a toy doll, is creative and comic. The strange creature on the black background looks like a sci-fi alien, with its weird headlight eyes, big domed head and limbs disembodied from its trunk.
Robert Durlak's color portrait, "Edwardine, Leona, Donna," makes us laugh because it is so real and warm.
In our own families, in our neighborhoods, we know these three women -- young, middle-aged and old -- who sit together on a slip-covered couch in a living room of collectible figurines.
And a few words about the space.
Compared to the old gallery on nearby Columbia Street, this new space is hip and inviting. You can't miss it either, as there are big signs and a three-foot-tall "40" is posted in the wide storefront windows that face Maiden Lane.
Stacks, an espresso bar, is right next door, and through the windows of the gallery, you see outdoor tables and chairs peeking through the snow in a pocket park.
Next year, the Photo Regional moves to the Opalka Gallery at Sage Colleges, where it's usually an invitational.
39th Annual Photography Regional
WHERE: Albany Center Gallery, Arcade Building, 488 Broadway, Albany
WHEN: Through Friday April 21. Gallery is open from 12 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: albanycentergallery.org, 462-4775, Facebook