Critical Essay
Selected Works of Gary Adlestein

Looking critically at an artist's work is more than just looking at the work objectively. What the art meant to the artist and ultimately what one may make of it is the key. One of the keys to happiness is self expression. It is however a great challenge to many artists who, search far and wide for their voice. Through a lifetime of work Gary Adlestein has expressed himself through the art of experimental film making.

The first film on Gary's collective work is "Swan Boat". This film was split screen. The bright coloring of the film is extraordinary. The red of the boat on the water and the greenish surroundings light up the screen. What was different about this film was not only was it split screen but it seemed to be the same thing on both sides at different times and at different closeness.

Next appearing on screen was a silent film, "Pie Plates", which was shot in black and white. The image was of a group of pie plates used to ward off pesky birds. After the first minute or two the beauty starts to unfold. It became like watching fireworks; the way the light bounces off the plates sporadically in the wind. Shooting pie plates is different, but that's why people describe his films as experimental and imagistic.

"Shadow Hunting" was really interesting. It was a film where Adelstein was chasing a dog that seemed to be chasing Rabbits. There was a kind of warmth that came off in this piece. It almost seemed like the video version of a Norman Rockwell painting. Something you can really feel at home about. The film is fast moving as the artist chases his dog. The scene is captured with flying green leaves buzzing past the camera and little trickles of sunlight moving in and out at random. The film ends abruptly. Did the dog catch a rabbit? Did the film maker run out of film? Maybe, what happens isn't as important as the scene that the artist captured and the images displayed.

After "Shadow Hunting" Comes a film simply entitled "Amish". This one was very surprising. First off, while the first few films seemed taking longer than expected to capture just one idea, this film is mere seconds. The vivid coloring was gone, while still possessing the clarity of his previous films. This one seems almost like dark animation. You see an Amish man and his buggy shot from a distance away. Like the film, the Amish live a simpler life style than those around them.

The films of the collection were rather impressive and quite different from each other. These films were in no way Hollywood and in no way like the independent films. These films were different. These were more like a painting or a song. Story was not the essential in theses films. These films were instead images and ideas that were expressed through the thoughts and feelings that one finds one's self encountering while viewing Adlestein's art.

--Jonathan Cohen, 2004

Gary Adlestein