From 2000 to 2003, Marc Joseph traveled some 10,000 miles photographing pit bulls and the people who love them. The pictures he took, as befits his subject, are big, forthright, aggressive.
Part of the aggressiveness is chromatic. All but two of the 26 images that make up ''Marc Joseph: American Pitbull," which runs through Feb. 11 at the Bernard Toale Gallery, are in color -- bright, in-your-face color. The dogs may be leashed, but the colors aren't.
Part of the aggressiveness is owing to scale. The smallest images here are 20 inches by 24 inches. Most are 30 inches by 30 inches, or 40 inches by 40 inches. There's one picture, ''Pit Bull, East Texas" (where else?), that's a whopping 48 inches by 60 inches.
Mostly, though, it's owing to content. There are the dogs themselves, of course, creatures whose bite is definitely worse than their bark. Yet ''Black Puppy, East Texas" shows a little fella who's hardly more than palm-size (the wristwatch of the man holding him looks like a plinth for a Beanie Baby), and the straining, imperial strength shown by the dog in ''Work" subsumes fierceness in nobility.
Even at their most malign, these are magnificent animals. You don't have to share Joseph's love for pit bulls to understand why they get to him. In his 2003 book, ''Marc Joseph: American Pitbull," he mentions the ''holy wonder" they inspire in him, a response visible in every square inch of these pictures.
Actually, the humans tend to be scarier than the dogs. Joseph also captures a thick slice of a very thick kind of Americana: one marked by tattoos and shaved heads, hideous dental work and dull-eyed stares. The bright eyes belong to their pets.
They're beautiful -- but, boy, they look tough. There's one chocolate-brown guy named Reno who could stare down Johnny Cash. You can almost hear him howling out his very own customized version of ''Folsom Prison Blues": ''I bit a man in Reno, just to watch him die."
Mark Feeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.