Gazing at Glazers

Walk into Glazers Coffee and the place is packed, but silent as … well, a group of people turned out of their surroundings and into their laptops. The scene echos the dozen or so photos on the wall by James Charisma. At first they’re off-putting. The primary figure in each has his/her back to the viewer. But then you realize that’s the whole point.

Charisma recently visited galleries in Seattle, Chicago and New York and tuned into the voyeuristic aspect of art viewing, where people stare, but can’t touch.


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“Critical Chris” James Charisma photo

“The perspective of the observers can be interpreted along with the artwork,” says Charisma.

As he looked through his pictures after his travels, this trend of catching people staring “went beyond just galleries ―I found a great many more photos taken on the street and in stores, of people thoughtfully considering the world around them. These people kept the same unspoken physical distance as the museum patrons, and it didn’t matter if they were staring at a van Gogh or a piece of cheese.”

Life was imitating art ― even outside, he noticed people engaged in a mediated relationship with their surroundings: viewing, but not touching … often with wry affect.

In one shot, several men and a child stand at opposing angles to van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” but rather than admiring the painting, each is firmly engrossed in their cell phone. In another, an office man looking quite un-safarilike in a collared, buttoned shirt seems to be taking a photo of a herd of gazelles (he’s taking a photo of a photo, of course). There’s almost a Droste effect (with a photo recursively appearing within itself) while you try to decipher a shot of a man looking quizzical as he stares at some white threadlike structures, and you realize you’re probably wearing the very same quizzical expression he is. A couple of pictures taken outside the museum setting include one of a woman gazing ― you can almost feel her dilemma ― at a selection of hundreds of artisan cheeses on display, and another of a bald man window-shopping at a display of myriad hats.

“This was the biggest driving force for the show: Oftentimes the very thing fascinating us is the one thing we can’t actually touch or have, although we are encouraged to stare as long as we want. The line between ‘exhibition’ and ‘exhibitionist’ has never been thinner.

Ticket Stub

When: During cafe hours through Oct. 31

Where: Glazers Coffee (2700 S. King St.)

More Info:


The King Lives On

Damien Brantley as Michael Jackson. Photo courtesy Legends In Concert Waikiki.

Today, Aug. 29, the King of Pop would have turned 54. When Michael Jackson was in the height of his glory days, little Damian Brantley was feeling thrills as he listened to Thriller and spent his elementary school playground time fighting with his buddies over who gets to “be Michael.” Then again, we’re all Michael impersonators laughs Brantley ― after all, “Who hasn’t tried to moonwalk alone at home in the mirror at least once?”

Through the years Brantley kept at dancing and singing like MJ for the joy of it, and at 19 he landed a gig in Vegas. His appearance is so convincing that he’s been mistaken for the real Mc Coy, and with amusing results: “I was doing a corporate event in Las Vegas and an older woman walked up to me and began telling me how much she enjoyed my music, my concerts, her favorite video song of mine, the whole works …”

Before Brantley could interject to set her straight, a passerby beat him to it. His admirer became outraged at the suggestion that they were not in the presence of The King himself and “within seconds the two ladies were wrestling on the ground.” Brantley had to take his wig off to set his defender straight. “The irony is, I don’t think I got paid for that gig … all because someone thought I was Michael Jackson!”

Today Brantley celebrates Michael nightly as a world-class tribute artist at Legends in Concert Waikiki (

“When I think of MJ,” reflects Brantley, “one thing pops in my mind: the future. He is the mark all current artists strive to reach, now, and for time to come.”