LENSCRATCH, Aline Smithson, October 2016
Peter Brown Leighton is sort of a cross between a comedian and a magician, creating single image novelas that are at once off-kilter and humorous, allowing for a sense of confusion and whimsy within the photographic narrative. At first glance, one might miss the fact that these are constructed images using bits and pieces from a variety of found vernacular photographs, where, with a wave of a wand and a top hat, he casts his own actors and landscapes into new realities. His most recent series, Live Snakes, follows two previous projects, Plutonium Blast and Perfect Strangers, each taking us on an unexpected journeys through time and place. Pete has had two solo exhibitions this year, recently closing Live Snakes at the Photo Méthode Gallery, Austin, TX, and Man Lives Through Plutonium Blast at the Blue Sky Gallery, Portland, OR, curated by Christopher Rauschenberg.
Peter was born in Santa Monica, California, in 1948 and raised up in a rural farming community in North Texas. He graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio in 1970 with a degree in history. In the early 1970s, he worked for several years as a darkroom assistant to Tom Wright, a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient. This was a transformative experience, and Leighton has remained in thrall to the medium of photography and its history and practitioners ever since. For the past several years, he has been engaged in a personal project, reimagining the vernacular history of photography as it has grown and evolved from its humble analog beginnings to the current day.