As part of our ongoing series “Critics Choice,” author Anand Mahadevan writes about Bill Finger’s evocative piece 1973- age 12 (Ladder).

Bill Finger, 1973 - age 12 (Ladder), 2006

Bill Finger, 1973- age 12 (Ladder), 2006

by Anand Mahadevan

All that remains of childhood are images; time weathers places, withers people and even in the safe vaults of our minds, memory acquires a sepia taint such that when a remembered image coalesces into shape it teeters between fact and fiction.

Looking at Bill Finger’s 2006 work 1973- age 12 ( Ladder), a childhood game comes into sharp relief in my mind. Stealing a ladder to slink down into a hole for a game of hide and seek. And in the memories of my past, the hole is deeper so that the warm cylinder of earth swallows me whole, reassuring with its smell of mud – petrichor – and lidded only by a pale disc of a blue sky, clouds streaming across it. Then in a moment of pure cinema, the game is forgotten, replaced by a sense of disbelief, an inward hoop of joy as the silhouette of a plane crosses high in the sky above flying to romantic places: Timbuktu. And for the duration of its traverse across my pie-sky, I feel the hand of destiny caress me.

Now as an adult, I marvel at the chance of it all, the disparate props coming together. To my jaded eyes, the hole appears a pit now, wide and shallow and if now I were to lie in it and look up would the plane move as slowly as I remembered or would it dart across the sky like an arrow intent on finding its target?

Every one of Bill Finger’s carefully crafted works casts us back into the Technicolor of our pasts. Each photograph sits in the liminal space between a child’s imagination and an adult’s memory. House places the crenellated castle of childhood at just the right distance, far enough so the taste of danger whets our lips as we explore the forest of creatures among the roots of grasses and shrubs and yet close enough to run to when the wanton gaze of flocculent clouds changes with darkening moods. The Devil’s Den provokes memories of scrapped knees and bums sore from sitting on jagged rocks of boyhood. How secret were our hiding places, the adult self looking at the photo asks of our memories? Mattress carries the stench of childhood shame, its wet betrayal and the bloom-like contours of dried piss-stains revealing our long and varied relationship with it. Is it because we dirty it through childhood that as sex burgeons, we press into its soft warmth and make it our first lover?

And if your adult-self cringes at the memories these photographs evoke, then I ask only that you look at these made up images with the relief that the sets that created them no longer exist. No more than the child who once bore your name. And in that sorrow, take comfort from the photographs that reveal to you again a life that once made magic from the barest of props.

Anand Mahadevan, a Toronto based novelist, is the author of The Strike and currently at work on his second novel. More information about him and his writing is available at

See more work by Bill Finger.

New Internet gallery connects artists and art lovers

RIT University News

This photo, ‘After Hitchcock’ by Bill Finger ’05, is one of the images offered by the new Circuit Gallery Web site.

This photo, ‘After Hitchcock’ by Bill Finger ’05, is one of the images offered by the new Circuit Gallery Web site.

New Internet gallery connects artists and art lovers

Finding a market for their work is a perpetual challenge for artists. Yet ironically, many potential customers don’t know where to find high quality artwork.

Susana Reisman ’05 (master’s, fine arts) and her business partner, University of Rochester graduate Claire Sykes, have turned to the Internet for a solution to both of these problems. The two have developed Circuit Gallery, an online enterprise offering limited editions of contemporary photographic, digital and print-based works on paper.

“Our primary goal is to make interesting, significant, quality, contemporary art more accessible by making it more affordable,” Reisman says. “We want to make collecting or buying art an activity more people can actually participate in, rather than a privilege that only a few can afford.”

Unlike traditional galleries, which sell limited editions at higher prices, Circuit Gallery keeps prices down by offering larger editions. Reisman and Sykes, who both live in Toronto, believe this concept makes perfect sense in the world of digital art, where the difference between “original” and “reproduction” has ceased to exist.

“This is the case with so much of contemporary art these days, and especially photography,” says Reisman. “The turn to the digital, along with incredible technological advances in printing methods and papers, has in many ways forced a consideration or questioning of ‘value’ and made our model a logical response.”

Circuit Gallery currently features the work of a dozen artists, some of whom are just starting out while others have international reputations. Among the 12 are five RIT photography grads: Stefan Petranek ’06, Akihiko Miyoshi ’05, Bill Finger ’05, Reisman and Dan Larkin ’83, chair of the fine arts photography program in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences.

The partners expect the gallery to grow. They plan to add new artists on a regular basis and are always on the lookout for new and exciting work. They are also developing projects and exhibitions for “physical” gallery spaces in Toronto and elsewhere.

The Circuit Gallery Web site has been live since December 2008 and Reisman says they’ve been delighted with the response so far.

“Although we haven’t advertised, we’ve been receiving excellent traffic, decent sales and really positive feedback,” says Reisman. “It is remarkable how far and fast good ideas and content can spread, due to the ‘viral’ nature of the Web.”

This article originally appeared in the RIT University News magazine on April 13, 2009. See the original article.

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