“Friends” is the title of the exhibit that opened Nov. 13 at Art Gallery 21, 600 NE 21st Court, in Wilton Manors.

While it shares its name with the nostalgic TV series in perpetual reruns, it is a totally contemporary show.

Organized by photographer Steven Shires and impeccably curated by Matthew Dreger, “Friends” comprises works of Shires and those of photographers who are friends of his: Wilton Manors resident Sharron Demarest and the Hallandale Beach-based triumvirate known as Marc-Martin Publishing: cousins Albert Barg, Jeff Weisberg, and Brandon Quarters.

Gallery owner Constance Ruppender remarked, “We are honored to have been chosen to exhibit this show. This is the first of its kind for us. It was originally timed to coincide with the Wilton Manors Art Walk on Nov. 20. When that event was moved up a week so as not to conflict with Fort Lauderdale Pride on the Beach, we revised our opening schedule.”

Shires’ work reflects an eclectic approach to photography. While he has taken thousands of shots for community events and continues to work as a commercial photographer, it is his fine-art side that is highlighted in this exhibit.

He says, “I shoot what captures my eye. I want my audience to see what I see through the camera, and as a result, I’m a big fan of cropping.” Because he prints his fine-art photos on watercolor paper, people often mistake them for paintings. Shires’ portfolio can be viewed at www.stevenshires.com.

Demarest combines masterful, colorful still-life and urban scenes with poignant color and black-and-white portraits. She says, “I owe my photography career to Steven Shires, whom I met while I was shooting an assignment for SAGE of South Florida, where I was editor and photographer of the newsletter. Steve encouraged me to enter gallery shows.

“I expand the boundaries of traditional photography with Photoshop. The three pillars of my work are observing people, getting close-up to nature, and doodling on the computer.” You can see more of Sharron Demarest’s work online at scd-photographics.com.

The Marc-Martin artists, Albert Barg, Jeff Weisberg, and Brandon Quarters, are well-known individually and collectively for their photos of National Parks. At Art Gallery 21, they selected a few images from those sites along with scenes of Miami Beach.

Weisberg says, “This barely scratches the surface of what all three of us do. We wanted to sample what we do around the country but also show our local stuff. Close to home, we love taking photos of the beach, the Everglades, and other natural areas like the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and Green Cay Wetlands.” You can see more of their work at www.marcmartinpublishing.com.

If you are a lover of fine photography, watch the show at Art Gallery 21 through Dec. 11. The gallery is open Fridays and Saturdays from 5-7 p.m. and by appointment: 954-225-5488. Include a visit in your dinner plans and enjoy another aspect of what the Wilton Manors community is all about.


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