New Art: Pete Mauney's Night Skies + Fireflies August 21 2014

We’re thrilled to introduce this new series of magical photographs by Pete Mauney, which are aglow with the mystery and wonder of warm summer nights.

Cemetery Rd, 3169-3327, Viewmont, NY by Pete Mauney
8"x10" ($24) | 11"x14" ($60) | 16"x20" ($240) |  24"x30" ($1200)  |  30"x40" ($2400)


Montgomery St, 2225-2303 NY by Pete Mauney
8"x10" ($24) | 11"x14" ($60) | 16"x20" ($240) |  24"x30" ($1200)  |  30"x40" ($2400) 


Is it a dream?
Nay but the lack of it the dream,
And failing it life's lore and wealth a dream
And all the world a dream.

–Walt Whitman

I’m prone to proclaiming my excitement about many things, but I am really, seriously, super-excited to be debuting Pete Mauney’s photographs of fireflies and night skies here on 20x200. Cemetery Rd, 3169-3327 Viewmont, NY and Montgomery St, 2225-2303, NY are from a series that Pete started posting oh-so casually on his Facebook wall earlier this summer, and lo, the algorithmic gods smiled upon me! Somehow my long-but-not-entirely-lost friend’s gorgeous photographs started popping up in my stream almost daily, and it was good. (I probably helped the algorithm along by like, freaking out, every time he posted one of them.)

They’ve had a similar effect on the 20x200 crew, and it’s both easy (“Ooh, so pretty!”) and difficult (in a way that I can’t possibly describe in a parenthetical) to see why. Turns out there’s a German word—Sehnsucht—that stands in for the complex roiling of emotions that have been provoked in everyone we’ve shared them with. It kind of means “nostalgia for a thing you might not have ever experienced but can’t stop longing for.”

Pete’s photographs—comprised of a series of decisive moments layered on top of one another, rather than just one singular capture—are the visual embodiment of that longing, for a childhood we might’ve never had, for wonder and for magic. He’s been searching for that magic for years, photographing in the night and wrestling with the technical challenge inherent in capturing the fleeting glow of fireflies.

My hunch is that this search is powered by a similar longing Pete has for the practice of photography itself. What it used to be that won’t ever be reclaimed, and what it can’t possibly ever achieve. He’s the kind of photographer that loves photography so much that it hurts, and yet keeps returning to it. He’s an artist of the sort that proves my long-believed conviction that being an artist is really freaking hard, and brave.

There’s much to be enjoyed in the mere “Ooh, pretty!” surface of these photographs, and how they so perfectly capture the beauty and mystery of a quiet, dark night in the country. But it’s that longing that makes them luminous, and the magic of them that is their richest reward.

With art for everyone,
Jen Bekman + Team 20x200