Roe Ethridge, County Line Meadowmere Park, 2004. Chromogenic color print, 24 × 31 inches (61 × 78.7 cm). Gift of Bridgitt and Bruce Evans. © Roe Ethridge
Roe Ethridge is both a commercial photographer and a conceptually driven fine art photographer, and he uses each side of his practice to nourish the other. His photographic work displays the extremely high polish and sharp clarity of the print technology available for promotional photography today, yet his handsomely rendered views of people, places, and animals come across as things that are as alien as they are familiar.
County Line Meadowmere Park, one of sixteen photographs included in Ethridge’s solo exhibition at the ICA/Boston in 2005, is from the series County Line, which records views of a quiet ocean-side community located on the Nassau County line in Queens, New York. As this photograph demonstrates, though the artist uses a particular location as a touchstone for this series, he balances specificity with generalization. This handsome view of boats, water, and foliage topped by a generous swath of blue sky and puffy clouds is reminiscent of a classic Dutch landscape, but it is edged with signs of contemporary life, such as the boats’ instrumentation and engines. Duality is further marked by the sky’s subtle shift in tone near the center of the image––Ethridge’s wry reference to the county line marked by the waterway shown. In these seductive images, dividing lines that are present but not fully visible keep the viewer at a certain distance.
The addition of County Line Meadowmere Park to the ICA/Boston collection complements existing holdings of photographic works by Ethridge and other seminal contemporary photographers, including Nan Goldin, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, and Rineke Dijkstra.