Lit by fire(flies)

Gregory Crewdson is the Hitchcock of photographers.

If you know the Purchase College grad’s work – which you’ll find in The Met, MoMA, the Brooklyn Museum and the Whitney, to name a few – then you know he creates haunting photographs that suggest stills from movies that will never be made but perhaps should’ve been. (Fans of the Berkshires will recognize some of the locales, used to spooky effect.)

Now Crewdson is doing for the insect world what he did for western Massachusetts in “Gregory Crewdson: Fireflies,” a series of 61 black-and-white photos on view at Wave Hill today, May 23, through Aug. 24. It’s the first time the works, made in 1996 when he was living alone at his family’s Massachusetts cabin, will be shown as a group. In these Crewdson invites the viewer to watch the fireflies – signs of the soft seasons – bubble up from an inky sea of grass to mate and inspire the dreamer in himself and all of us.

“The fireflies represented something very particular to me that summer,” he has observed. “So simple yet imbued with significance. The sole illumination in the fast falling darkness. Also, the fact that what I was witnessing was a mating ritual. I was a silent onlooker to this perfect natural ceremony…It was the experience of taking the photographs that was most important to me at that time, rather than the actual images themselves. When I began printing the work, after the summer, for various reasons I felt the need to put the photographs away. Maybe because the images were so removed from my actual experience of being there.”

Happily for us, Crewdson revisited the project 10 years later, and the images found their way into a couple of his books. And now you can see all of them in the Glyndor Gallery at Wave Hill, a garden and cultural center overlooking the Hudson in the Bronx’s Riverdale section. The spectacular scenery makes Wave Hill a treat in all seasons. But the exhibits and imaginative programming around them also keep you coming back.

Plans for the summer include a special evening nature walk, “Fireflies and Other Insects of the Night,” on June 24, and a Family Art Project, “Fancy Fireflies,” on July 26 and 27. On “Sunset Wednesday” evenings from July 2 through August 6, Wave Hill is open to the public for a special opportunity to view not only the exhibition but to see actual fireflies in the evening gardens as well.

Wave Hill is open 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays through Oct. 31. (It closes an hour earlier Nov. 1-March 14.) Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. Wave Hill’s curatorial assistant offers guided gallery tours on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m. that are free with admission to the grounds, which is $8; $4 students and senior citizens 65+, $2 for children 6–18. Wave Hill is free to children under age 6 and members at all times and to everyone Tuesdays and Saturdays until noon. For workshop fees, directions and other information, visit wavehill.org. For more on gardens, pick up a copy of WAG’s May “Flower Power” issue. –Georgette Gouveia

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