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Gallery View: Rotunda ‘Nature and Machine’

“Nature and Machine” featured photographs by Lehigh Valley artist Matthew Blum at the Rotunda Gallery, Town Hall, Bethlehem.

The exhibit is a result of Blum’s camerawork and darkroom experiments, including palladium, cyanotype, albumen, ambrotype, gumoil and silver gelatin processes.

“With my photography, I prefer traditional ways of photography printing. Depending on the subject, I’ll use the best-suited camera as a brush to capture the scene. Once captured, each photograph is hand-printed individually in the darkroom,” according to Blum’s artist’s statement.

“What makes this photography show so unique is that Matthew uses a variety of darkroom techniques that truly elevates it from the typical genre of photography,” says DePietro, who co-curated the exhibition with Richard Begbie.

“I like this space as it’s circular,” Blum says of the Rotunda Gallery and the exhibition’s subject matter. “They balance each other out.”

On the “Nature” side of the gallery, Blum’s “Pinhole Trees” (2021; silver gelatin print, 11 in. x 14 in.) was photographed with a pinhole camera he created on a 3-D printer. The image was shot with a three-second exposure at Lake Muhlenberg, Cedar Beach Park, Allentown.

Images of trees, bison, shells and blossoms make up the flora and fauna half of the exhibit.

The “Machine” side features a silver gelatin “Boombox,” as well as vintage vehicles, typewriter keys, piano and Bethlehem Steel plant images.

Blum, an Allentown-based artist, first began working in filmmaking. He later developed an interest in still photography and built a modest 35mm darkroom. His darkroom expanded to a large format 4 by 5 setup.

The exhibition, sponsored by the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission, concluded Dec. 21.

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

“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 Matthew Blum with “Pinhole Trees” (2021; silver gelatin print, 11 in. x 14 in.), “Nature and Machine,” Rotunda Gallery, Town Hall, Bethlehem.