"The Belmont Rocks" is the title of a series of documentary photographs of a gay beach in Chicago shot by Doug Ischar over a two-year period. Though Ischar claims his earlier black and white work explores sculptural and formal concerns while more recent Cibachrome prints deal with the artifacts of popular culture as they appear within the gay male subculture, the work is not substantially different. All have the impromptu quality of candid snapshots; Ischar's subjects are caught unawares, none gaze into the camera lens and, in fact, many snooze.
Examining a currently beleaguered demimonde that Ischar proudly claims as his own in a posted statement, these pictures handle the subject of homosexuality with a gloved hand. There are no sad old queens in Ischar's photos, no AIDS victims, no snarling leather boys. What we see instead are beautiful young men who look as though they probably hold down office jobs during the week, work on their tans in their leisure time, and happen to be of a sexual orientation that often results in their being treated with an alarming lack of compassion.
Also on view are photographs of female body builders by Bill Heimanson. Straightforward portraits that focus on bulging, gleaming muscles encased in networks of popping veins, Heimanson's pictures pay homage to bodies that represent a triumph of the will but look nonetheless gnarly. (Cityscape Foto Gallery, 97 E. Colorado Blvd., to Aug. 30.)