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“I Heart New Haven” Hits A Wall
by Allan Appel | Sep 18, 2013 11:00 am
Posted to: Arts & Culture, Visual Arts, Westville
The duck pond. The lighthouse. The great Rocks. Not to mention the Green, students and sledders, taxi drivers, and the view out to the harbor from Nathan Hale Park.
These New Haven images converge on a wall in Westville, in a new exhibit born on the web.
The exhibit of 24 photographs, called “I Love New Haven,” has gone up on the lobby walls of the Mitchell Branch Library. They’ll remain on display during library hours through the end of October.
The exhibit grows out of a volunteer grassroots project also called I Love New Haven (or as my unsentimental wife would say, “I Heart New Haven). Wooster Square activists Chris Randall and Wooster’s Jeffrey Kerekes established the project a year ago. They created a collective to produce a website bursting with photos of great stuff about New Haven, day by day. Now they’ve taken some of the best shots and transferred their patriotic tributes to the library walls.
Mitchell Branch Librarian Sharon Lovett-Graff said she had been “nudging” Randall for six months to have such a show because she liked the work she viewed online so much. She finally succeeded.
The photos, which are for sale by the participating artists, begin with Randall’s suite of four large framed compositions, which include the Edgewood Park Duck Pond. Randall’s caption says that it’s one of his two favorite locations in the city. (He doesn’t reveal the second.)
As a patriotic Westvillian and former president of the Friends of Edgewood Park, Lovett-Graff shares Randall’s duck pond sentiments.
She pointed to detail in the photo, including the erosion-preventing grasses in the foreground that Randall captured in vivid greens. “We planted some of those,” she said.
Westville Village Renaissance Alliance‘s Chris Heitmann, who had dropped by for a meeting with Lovett-Graff, selected among his favorites a non-Westville composition: “Dan Viera at Fort Hale Park Pier,” by Daria Berkowska.
The show features seven photos by Kerekes, seven by Berkowska, four larger framed photographs by Randall, and works by eight other photographers.
Lovett-Graff said that since she has received only positive reviews from library visitors.
Several of the images even “dumbfounded” viewers, Lovett-Graff reported. By that she meant viewers were challenged to figure out where in town the photo is taken.
Of course you can cheat by looking at the label. If you did, this one, by Jeffrey Kerekes, would tell you the multicolored lights that serve as the background are arrayed on the municipal Christmas tree on the Green.
If there’s a deficiency in the show, it’s that knowing every composition is a New Haven scene directs the eye and the brain to have figuring out location as its first task. That might detract from taking in other kinds of information and retinal experience.
But it’s a small matter. The pleasure of the exhibition, as well as the whole project, is a bit like sitting down with the folks and looking through the family album of snapshots together.
Only most of the works are far more than snapshots.
The photos invite close scrutiny because they dangle a touch away from the wall. That gives the photos a bit of the jauntiness of a mobile, regardless of subject.
This bravura photograph first struck me as similar to the way the sky looked on my mother’s gift calendar courtesy of the Mt. Zion Mortuary. When I was a kid I’d look up at it every day in our breakfast nook and measure my own growth by how close the top of my head had risen, say, to the pyramids of Egypt or the tops of the curling waves of the Red Sea as the Children of Israel crossed in safety.
One image, on the day the Ten Commandments were given, if memory serves, had the very same sky ablaze in precisely the rich pinks and imperial azures that Matt Branscombe and the BSC Photo Studio have captured in “New Haven Fireworks 2012.”
Other photographers whose work is displayed in the show include Stephen Whittaker; David DeMusis; Semhal Tsegaye; Christopher Zurcher; Yancey Hitt; Bejamin Asbell; and Marilyn de Guehry.
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