Images made by a diverse group of local photographers and intended to introduce community to sister city in Germany to be featured in local exhibit
If a picture says a thousand words, Port Washington is about to send a tome to its sister city of Sassnitz, Germany.
That’s because Gallery 224’s latest exhibit, “Letters to Sassnitz,” is filled with photographs that are intended to convey what Port Washington means to each photographer.
“We have so much access to information today, but what creates connections is personal,” gallery director Jane Suddendorf said. “You can go online and see what Port Washington looks like. But these aren’t those kinds of photos.
“We wanted to show what in Port Washington is unique to each of us. A lot of the places that are important to us aren’t huge spaces, they’re intimate, private spaces.”
The show includes a wide variety of images, from waterfront scenes to still lifes to self-portraits. There are streetscapes and aerial photos taken by a drone.
There are photographs made by professionals and amateurs, students and adults and even a family.
Each of the photographs will be accompanied by a letter from the photographer to the people of Sassnitz that explains not only why Port and the image reflected are so important to them but also tells a little bit about them.
A series of photos by Martin Morante, studio manager at Studio 224, has been printed as postcards. People visiting the exhibition can use the postcards to write to their counterparts in Sassnitz.
Those letters, as well as the photographs and messages from the photographers, will travel to Sassnitz this summer.
“It’s such a nice way to transmit a message,” Morante said. “People don’t send postcards anymore. They send emails. It’s nice to send a handwritten piece of paper to the other side of the ocean and say, ‘This is a place where you can come and be welcome.’”
Morante said the images he shared for the exhibit are taken from 1,300 black-and-white photos he included in a book, “Marinas: Short Tales by the Harbor.”
One of the photographs included in the show, titled “Once Upon a Time,” depicts a swimmer jumping off the sheetwall on the Port breakwater.
“That’s a reflection of my own past,” said Morante, who grew up near water in Uruguay. It reminds him of the days when he would jump in the water without a care. Today, he said, he would be mindful of such things as insurance and “am I going to break my leg.”
Cassidy Penkivech, a 15-year-old sophomore at Port Washington High School, submitted a photo of the public stairs behind the Niederkorn Library.
“It’s a little bit of Port I see all the time,” she said. “It’s kind of special to me.”
Penkivech said she was passing by the stairs with a friend when she noticed
the light and had to stop to capture the scene.
“We were mid-conversation and I had to stop. I saw the light on the stairs and thought it was really cool. He was laughing at me, but I just had to take the photograph,” she said.
“I like taking pictures that have to do with cool light.”
Ross Kroeger, the City of Port’s engineering technician, has a number of photographs in the show. He was among a contingent of city officials who traveled to Sassnitz last summer, and returned to the city in December.
Images from those trips, as well as some aerial photos he and his brother Scott took via drone, and scenes from the Paramount Music Festival last year, are part of the show.
“It’s a different perspective — that’s a lot of the way I see Port,” Kroeger said. “I have different access to things because I work for the city.”
His images of the music festival, for example, include some he took from backstage that showcase the band and the crowd with the city unfolding behind them.
“To me, art is universal,” Kroeger said. “In a lot of things, the arts are kind of binding. It’s the one thing that transcends everything else.
“I’m very passionate about this Sister City relationship. I’ve been there and I’ve gotten to know the people. I think this is a good way to introduce Port to Sassnitz.”
Suddendorf said the show was prompted by discussions she had with Kroeger and Mayor Tom Mlada, adding she hopes the exhibit will raise awareness of the Sister City relationship Port has.
Mlada concurred, adding that’s especially important since officials from Sassnitz will visit Port this summer.
“There are so many similarities between our two communities,” he said. “We’re really trying to bring that home to people.”
Suddendorf sent out a message to the community seeking photographers for the show, and said she was heartened by the response.
“I was really pleased with the diversity of the responses,” she said.
Photographers participating in the show include Studio 224 staff members Cynthia Lorenz, Berel Lutsky, Morante, Vicki Reed and Pam Strohl.
Community members include Eric Curtin, Kroeger, Dan Laurence, Rebekah Luedcke, Daniel Micha, Penkivech, Mary Prochazka, Annette, Shane and Miles Stimac, Anthony Shafer and Scott Symes.
An opening reception for the exhibit will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 24. The exhibit runs through April 29.
Other displays of photos and items from Sassnitz will be held at the Niederkorn Library in conjunction with the exhibit.
Image Information: THE NEW EXHIBIT at Gallery 224 includes (clockwise from top) a photograph of people walking along the icy Port Washington beach taken by Dan Laurence, a self-portrait by Anthony Shafer showing him sitting and reading a book on Franklin Street, and a photo of someone diving off the Port breakwater taken by Martin Morante.