One of the great virtues of photography is to seize upon distinctive moments of life and preserve their emotional tone for extended contemplation. Ben Gest realizes that potential in his series of semi-staged studies of people of assorted ages undergoing the all-too-familiar, yet habitually overlooked experience of irritable frustration tinged with anxiety. Imagine 72-year-old Peggy Brennan driving through the suburbs with Gest at her side, camera in hand, snapping her every time she made a turn. She is not having the ultimate ride and Gest has captured her apprehension that she might clip a pedestrian or be suspected of casing-out the neighborhood. Whether it is a little girl trying to fall asleep when she does not want to or a woman staring at her varicose veins, Gest reminds us that life is filled with mildly stressful times that do not make it into the visual canon, yet define so much of who we are. (Michael Weinstein)
Ben Gest shows at Stephen Daiter Gallery, 311 West Superior, (312)787-3350, through June 28.