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Gallery View: The Rodales’ ‘Photo-therapy’ at Rotunda

The Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission (BFAC) features the pandemic-inspired works of husband and wife photographers Anthony and Florence Rodale through Dec. 17, Rotunda Gallery, Town Hall, Bethlehem.

“This is my ‘photo-therapy,’” says Florence Rodale describing how she coped with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shutdown.

“My world just crumbled on me,” she relates about son Marlow when he was diagnosed with the coronavirus in November 2020. He recovered.

“Pinned Down” (2021; archival pigment print, 9 in. x 18 in.) is one of 16 black and white works selected from her “Brain Fog” series.

“It’s actually about the lockdown,” says the artist regarding the diptych of a butterfly displayed in a glass frame adjacent to a subdued self-portrait appearing trapped behind the glass of a computer monitor. “We are both pinned down and paralyzed, waiting to see what happens.”

Reflections off the glass and the soft focus of the images reflect the artist’s own feelings of “brain fog” experienced especially during the first year of the pandemic.

Rodale’s other works in the series present metaphors to the despair of feeling trapped along with the feelings of hope and beauty she experienced while seeking solace in nature.

Anthony Rodale’s 16 color selections from his “Deconstructing Nature” series complement the emotional gray “fog” of his spouse’s work.

“Transcendence” (2021; archival pigment print, 14 in. x 14 in.) is a scene he encountered while running along a beach in Australia. Among the rocky outcropping and swirling sky is a yellow-orange handprint nestled in the shadows, apparently linking nature to humanity. “That handprint just goes right through you,” says Rodale.

“When I run, I am connected with nature,” says the artist, “When I photograph, I am connected with myself and the universe and nature.

“I am looking to find inner harmony and flow,” says the artist-athlete about running and its connection to his photography. “I’m not after winning. I’m enjoying the path that I learn along the way.”

His journey of connecting emotions to photography and linking them to sport started around 1988. Anthony was assigned by his dad, Robert, to accompany Bicycling writer Joe Kita to find and photograph “the sweet spot of cycling” and “finding the regenerative spirit in cycling.”

A 2016 presentation by Charles, Prince of Wales, for “The Harmony Project in the U.K.” also inspired Rodale to “look at the world in a new way.”

“Deconstructing is an inner journey,” says Rodale, “I think that in this time, in the past year, we all have spent more time inside our minds more than ever.”

The Allentown-based artists capture their images and manipulate them digitally with iPhones. For Anthony Rodale, “It’s like collaboration between my iPhone, myself, and the application I use.”

Anthony Rodale is a life-long photographer, endurance athlete and international sustainability advocate. Rodale, a 1987 graduate of the Brooks Institute of Photography, Santa Barbara, Calif., served on The Rodale Institute board, 1992-2005, and is Chair of the Board of Directors, Sustainable Food Trust, Bristol, United Kingdom.

Florence Rodale, a native of France, is a self-taught photographer with a specialization in historical processes.

The couple has been married since 1991.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission presented in coordination with the ArtsQuest Annual InVision program.

Rotunda Gallery, Town Hall, 10 E. Church St., Bethlehem. Gallery hours: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, Closed weekends and holidays.

“Gallery View” is a column about artists, exhibitions and galleries. To request coverage, email: Paul Willistein, Focus editor, pwillistein@tnonline.com

PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIER Exhibition by photographers Anthony and Florence Rodale, through Dec. 17, Rotunda Gallery, Town Hall, Bethlehem.