Shellburne Thurber
9 Wellington Street” Thurber says she “became intrigued by the uncanny way in which inhabited spaces take on the energy of those who live and work in them.”

Shellburne Thurber is sometimes identified as the one Boston School photographer who stuck around. Like those who left — Nan Goldin, Philip Lorca diCorcia, Mark Morrisroe — she has photographed friends and family. But the Cantabrigian is best known for her shots of interiors: her late mom's childhood home, motels, the Boston Athenæum undergoing renovations, and abandoned, falling-apart Southern houses.

"I became intrigued by the uncanny way in which inhabited spaces take on the energy of those who live and work in them," Thurber has said.

Her exhibit "9 Wellington Street" at Barbara Krakow Gallery features photos from 2004 to '09 of the former South End brownstone of environmental scientist, lawyer, writer, and painter Ralph Horne. Natural light illuminates luxurious rooms furnished with side chairs carved with leafy decorations, Asian ceramics, stacks of papers, shelves of books wrapped in hand-labeled paper covers, and dusty collections of plastic robots, He-Man figures, and Star Wars toys. A statue of a nude fellow draped with pink plastic beads and a rubber snake stands atop a banister in the front hallway. Thurber displays the photos on wallpaper echoing that of the house, and with some of Horne's paintings, books and toys.

These photos have some of the upscale blandness of Thurber's psychoanalyst-office photos of a decade ago — on first glance, they could be shots from House Beautiful — but the interiors reveal themselves as an elderly gay bachelor's home gone to seed. In Horne's bedroom, a teddy bear sits on an upholstered chair, vines crawl in the window, and a water pitcher and bowl sit on a dresser guarded by a plastic Alien doll. You're left with an Edward Gorey vibe of abandonment, emptiness, and quiet.

“Shellburne Thurber: 9 Wellington Street”
BARBARA Krakow Gallery, 10 Newbury St, Boston | Through April 23

Read Greg Cook's blog at gregcookland.com/journal.

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