UMSL art Professor Dan Younger (left) and photography student Michael Randman

UMSL art Professor Dan Younger (left) prepares for his show at the Sheldon Art Galleries with help from photography student Michael Randman. (Photo by August Jennewein)

When Dan Younger visits Disneyland, don’t expect a posed shot of family members smiling in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. When he goes to New York he doesn’t get a sweeping panorama of the city’s skyline. Younger, a professor of art at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, doesn’t get the traditional vacation photos that the rest of us do.

He’s looking elsewhere. To him, a painted silhouette inadvertently pointing to a bird perched on a turquoise wall, or tourists on the Brooklyn Bridge staring and pointing at something unseen to the viewer are what’s compelling.

Younger’s work is the subject of his first solo St. Louis show in more than 20 years. “Dan Younger: Travel Places” will be on display Feb. 7 to May 17 at the Sheldon Art Galleries. His most recent show, “Some Kids,” was on display last fall in Beauvais, France, and was a series of non-traditional family photos of his grandchildren.

“That’s what I see,” Younger said, from his studio on the UMSL campus. “I look at the world slightly differently. They’re travel pictures or they’re kid pictures, but at the same time they’re not really.”

What they are is a collection of 25 photos of brilliant colors, thought-provoking angles and a sense of humor. The style is reminiscent of Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander and others, according to a press release from the Sheldon.

“Often keeping the camera at waist level, he makes most of his photographs on the sly, enabling the action to play out before his camera without self-consciousness,” according to the Sheldon. “This way we see the un-posed and unplanned in an environment that is usually full of orchestrated ‘photo opportunities’ and planned vistas. Within the bombast of tourism’s commercial hype, Younger reveals all that makes us human – the frailties and the grace.”

Despite the show’s travel theme, the show is a homecoming for the photographer and St. Louis native. Younger has taught at UMSL since 1996, but has not had a solo show in St. Louis since the early 1990’s. During the past 20 years, he has had shows in New York, France and elsewhere, but not in his own hometown.

“This show is really important to me because a lot of my friends are here, the people I teach are here, and a lot of my former students are here,” Younger said.

The Sheldon is at 3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis. Hours are Tuesdays 12 to 8 p.m.; Wednesdays through Fridays from 12 to 5 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and one hour prior to performances at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

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Rachel Webb

Rachel Webb