If carnage and its impact is your eye candy, you will not do better than spending an hour with Jon Lowenstein’s color and Carlos Javier Ortiz’s black-and-white photos of victims of gun violence and their mourners, shot mainly on the mean streets of Guatemala City, where 6,292 people were murdered in the past year in an unrestrained wave of slaughter. There is blood, grief and corpses wherever you look; both photographers are unsparing in their in-your-face attempts to depict brutality unvarnished by glorification and romance. Lowenstein and Ortiz eschew any hint of formal composition, capturing their subjects with seeming unstudied immediacy and making us feel as though we were sauntering down the street and suddenly came upon a dead body or a person contorted in anguish. For the ordinary viewer who is repelled by such scenes, this show is a heavy punch in the visual gut that provides an essential reality check. If we need a further reminder, Ortiz serves up a few takes from Chicago that bring the message home. (Michael Weinstein)
Through January 15 at the Gage Gallery, Roosevelt University, 18 S. Michigan Ave.