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Gallery View: ‘Paradoxes of Time’ photographed

“Photographic Paradoxes’ of Time” at Arthaus at the Mezz featured the photography of Gary Asteak, Matthew Blum and Peter Gourniak.

The exhibition, curated by Deborah Rabinsky, in the Renaissance Allentown Hotel, 12 N. Seventh St., concluded Feb. 5.

As a member of an Earthwatch project, Asteak journeyed to Krapivna, a tiny Russian farming village that appeared frozen in time. His camera warmly captured moments of the proud and self-reliant rural folks. While documenting their 19th century-like existence in 1998, Asteak also collected their poems, stories and songs.

Asteak’s “The Singing Women of Krapivna” (circa 2002; photographic print mounted on cardboard, 58 in. x 39 in.) visually recorded seven village women, side-by-side, at the area’s community center. “They would gather and sing songs of their heritage,” says Asteak.

The rest of the series features portraits of the villagers at home. Their eyes reflect the quiet joy they experience from their humble lifestyle.

Blum’s matted and framed “Winter Tree” (2020; palladium print, 10 in. x 12 in.) depicts the knarled frame of a tree “frozen in time” in a snow-covered field. As one who experiments with older photography technologies, Blum’s contemporary print looks like it was taken a century ago.

“The image is captured digitally,” says Blum. A digital negative is then created. “The palladium process is from the 1890s,” he says, explaining how the prints are pulled from the negatives in the darkroom.

Gourniak took the opportunity to explore sections of the empty Bethlehem Steel plant when he was hired to document the construction of the Hoover-Mason Trestle at SteelStacks. “I would go into the belly of the beast,” says Gourniak as he chronicled the abandoned works with thousands of digital images.

“Bethlehem Steel #1” (2021; digital print on aluminum, 39 in. x 26 in.) is from the series. It focuses on the cracked glass of an industrial gauge. Other pieces depict what appears to be graffiti, but were made by workers.

“Everywhere you look there are frames of life that are just worth documenting,” Gourniak says enthusiastically.

Gourniak collaborated with a printer in experimenting with printing on aluminum and other materials with textured inks for this and another series of images in the exhibit created with a 3-D landscape computer program.

With no white ink being applied, metal is exposed, and a dip coat of varnish is applied. Others in the series are printed on white-coated plastic.

Gourniak credits sculptor Steve Tobin with the idea of not providing titles for many of his works, especially the fantasy landscapes. “He would rather have the buyer name it to personalize it to their own collection,” says Gourniak.

Besides being a passionate globe-trotting photographer, Asteak is an Easton-based attorney. He graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in 1971 and Dickinson School of Law in 1974.

In addition to still photography, Blum works as a cinematographer, mixed-media artist and owns Lightly Salted Photos in Allentown. He is a William Allen High School graduate.

A professional photographer and videographer, as well as an abstract painter and mixed media artist, Gourniak works out of his studio at the Alternative Gallery, Allentown. He studied commercial art at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute (LCTI) and apprenticed with photographer Paul Pelak.

Arthaus at the Mezz is a partnership between RE: find and the Allentown Arts Commission.

Arthaus at the Mezz, mezzanine level gallery, Renaissance Allentown Hotel, 12 N. Seventh St., Allentown. Open 24 hours. www.allentownarts.com; 610-841-4866

PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIER From left, Matthew Blum, Gary Asteak and Peter Gourniak, “Photographic Paradoxes' of Time,” Arthaus at the Mezz, Renaissance Allentown Hotel.