Recently hung in the main gallery of the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences in Loveladies, is an exhibition of old photographs that “reinvents an island in black and white in color”.
The show is an accompanying piece to the release of this summer of Local Flair: The Photographic History of Long Beach Island Reimagined, a 288-page hardcover collection of hand-colored images and carefully selected words, from Eagleswood-based Down The Shore Publishing. Framed prints are for sale; the show is being held in conjunction with the LBIF’s ongoing holiday market through December 5.
The book – and, by extension, the assortment of images depicting the book in the exhibit – brings the colorful history of a barrier island, its people and surroundings to life, from the 1870s to the 1980s. The editors, husband-wife team Ray Fisk and Leslee Ganss aim to present local history authentically but from a more lively approach, to appeal to curious newcomers, perennial visitors and natives of the island.
It’s a book for the Instagram generation, organized in a gallery format like an art book, roughly organized by decade.
As the introduction theorizes, today’s consumers are drowning in pictures, devalued by the volume and by the filters and apps that make almost any picture look beautiful. Local color is a reboot in physical form.
“How to free yourself from this visual noise (sometimes beautiful and seductive)? Asks the exhibition literature. “How to find the particularity of a singular image? How to appreciate and see, again, the honesty, the intrinsic value of a photograph?
“By creating the book Local color, we tried to visualize old photographs with the same sensitivity that we had, in a pre-digital world, when they were first discovered. As if a friend had just found an old family album.
The images, by design, transport the viewer to another time in this place. Their hazy, dreamlike quality adds to the effect, said gallery director Jeff Ruemeli.
Marketing and gallery coordinator Kate Whitlock suggested that the simplicity of the images combined with the flatness of the color creates an appealing depth.
The added color makes the scenes relatable and helps the viewer connect with the subject in a new way, she noted. The flooded street of Beach Haven could be a photo taken today; Hurricane damage decades ago could be a shot captured after Super Storm Sandy. In the center of the framed painting hangs a photo of Captain Thomas Bond, the first owner of the LBI Hotel, inviting the viewer to sit and join him on the porch.
And yet – it is the changes in LBI over time, and especially since Sandy and COVID, that are longing for Local color bittersweet.
“It’s a local history book – but it’s also kind of an artistic endeavor that came full circle for us 35 years ago,” according to Fisk. “It’s personal, in the sense that it’s a different kind of book. But this is pure history.
Down The Shore was founded in 1984 in Harvey Cedars when Fisk was a photojournalist for The New York Times, United Press International and The Philadelphia Investigator. He played a pivotal role in The SandPaper’s fledgling years from 1977 to 1983, during which time Ganss also became artistic director of the newspaper. She stayed at the SandPaper from 1980-96, then left to design books for Down The Shore.
The hand-coloring of the historical black and white images from the book is a digital variation of what Ganss did in 1986 for the Third Down The Shore Calendar, using Marshall’s photo oils on fiber paper – the same technique as the artisans employed since the early 1900s. She would use a cotton swab, she recalls. For Local color, instead of photo oils, Ganss’ hand coloring was done with a computer.
The color was “always applied by hand with artisanal effort – not an app, not a filter, not an algorithm – using the right, intuitive, visual side of the human brain,” they explained.
“Countless little decisions about everything from the color of the swamp grass (subtle changes every season), or the water and sky, to buildings, to boats and skin tone have been made. by an artist who lives on the shore and understands time and proximity. in salt water.
“Here and in the book, we’ve paired the images with a short historical description, a quote from an islander’s experience, or a brief excerpt from one of our LBI books. Just enough to provide an honest and authentic context. And I hope to pique the interest of the spectator to discover a lot more.
Ganss scanned and cleaned up the original black and white images, correcting any weird scratches and hairs, smudges or tears, but not all of the imperfections, because “I didn’t want this to look like a brand new snapshot,” he said. she declared. She then worked with them in CMYK color mode in Photoshop. The whole process took about five years.
“We’ve worked (and lived) with a lot of these old photos so many times over the past four decades, they’re as familiar as the stories told in the books we’ve published,” Fisk said. “It was creatively exciting to give them new life. “
The couple extracted nearly 150 unique images from their own collections and those of their colleagues.
Thirty-three are on the show at LBIF. They share the wall with the remains of the Plein Air Plus exhibition, for which all works were painted in July and August of this year, and remain on sale. Side by side, they come up with a sort of “So and now” situation.
Find Local color at LBIF and most book and gift retailers in the LBI region and through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To learn more, visit down-the-shore.com.
To help a friend
As tables and displays fill the main gallery with pottery, jewelry, clothing, bags, accessories, artwork and more, a 4ft by 5ft quilt is proudly displayed on the Hawaii’s back wall, Barbara Robinson from Hawaii, up for auction for a Manahawkin family who had a life-threatening encounter with COVID.
Robinson grew up in North Jersey and lived and worked in Manahawkin from 1975 until she and her husband retired to Hawaii in 2005. ”according to Maggie Roedema, Wildflowers Too gallery owner at Barnegat Light.
Robinson’s friends from the old quarter, Michele and Roland Limosnero, contracted COVID-19 this summer and Michele fell seriously ill. She was treated at the University of Pennsylvania hospital, spending six weeks on a ventilator and two more on EMCO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation). The total time of hospitalization and rehabilitation was more than three months. Roland had to quit his job to care for their five children, including triplets who attend Southern Regional High School.
To help the family of seven, Robinson made a quilt and sent it to his longtime friend Cricket Luker, owner of Wildflowers, to auction it off as a fundraiser. As Robinson explained to Roedema, she had been a commercial artist but never a seamstress. She is a self-taught quilter in order to offer “usable gifts” instead of fine art, which “puts people in the spotlight”. Her larger quilts help raise funds for animal shelters in Hawaii full of animals abandoned in a volcanic eruption.
Roedema described Robinson as “a force”.
“She undertook this project on her own, without telling the family about it,” she said. Robinson estimated that it took him between 200 and 300 hours to complete the project. It wasn’t until she sent the quilt to Luker from Hawaii that she informed the Limosneros about it.
The quilt will be hung at LBIF for the duration of the Holiday Market as a silent auction item to benefit the Limosneros, in addition to a GoFundMe. While Michele is now at home and doing much better, she faces enormous challenges as she moves into the next phase of her recovery.
– Victoria Ford