Westport's Larry Silver Photo Exhibit Highlights Hometown Images

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Larry Silver's 'Beach Showers' will be part of his exhibit opening Thursday at the Westport Historical Society.
Larry Silver's 'Beach Showers' will be part of his exhibit opening Thursday at the Westport Historical Society. Photo Credit: Westport Historical Society

WESTPORT, Conn. -- The Westport Historical Society will host an opening reception Thursday, July 24, for a special exhibit of work by artist Larry Silver in which he focused his camera on his hometown of Westport.

The event will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Betty and Ralph Sheffer Gallery. The exhibition, "Larry Silver/Westport Visions: Four Decades of Photography," features images of the town’s favorite haunts, quiet spots and humorous encounters of everyday life in his hometown.

The exhibit will run through Oct. 18.

“Silver has tried to photograph every facet of Westport life,” as the late Burt Chernow wrote of this body of work, according to the Westport Historical Society. Silver spent four decades photographing the neighborhoods and public spaces of Westport, and the exhibit features images of its beaches, open fields, parks and downtown that are indicative of a love affair with his adopted town. This personal, creative journey began in 1973, when Silver and his family moved from New York City to Westport.

"An avid observer of human interaction, Larry Silver is equally drawn to capturing moments and scenes of daily life," the historical society said.

"Geographically, Westport was a relatively short distance from New York, but as a young photographer, who developed his eye on the streets of the Bronx, it may have as well been another planet. The images of Connecticut — trees, grass, flowers, kids with baseballs, young equestrians, families at the beach —may seem mundane, but they made Larry Silver feel reborn as an artist. He saw an opportunity to capture another part of America that had not been aesthetically documented," the historical society said.

Drawn from hundreds of images of Westport, this exhibition includes more than 50 prints, many vintage. Included are icons of Silver’s career, such as the Compo Beach images "Beach Showers" (1980) and "Dancing on the Jetties" (1979), which depict isolated human figures in strongly composed, and graphic environments.

This body of work also features images never exhibited or published before, including views of Sherwood Island State Park, the Gillespie Center (now Homes for Hope), town celebrations, local farms and neighborhoods, plus additional images of Compo, Longshore and downtown Westport.

Silver shot the majority of these with a 35-millimeter Nikon, a 2 1/4 by 2 1/4 Hasselblad or a 4 x 5 view camera. However, in recent years, he has explored possibilities of digital cameras.

"Westport Visions" offers longtime residents, those new to the area, along with summer visitors an opportunity to pause and reflect upon the ever-evolving town, from its roots as an agrarian village to a summer resort and artistic community to a modern metropolitan suburb. Many of the places that Silver captured with his camera have changed or disappeared, yet, others, like views of commuters at the train station and bathers at Compo Beach, remain, at once timeless and familiar.

Other work of his is on display in more than 29 museum collections. Some of the more famous places are the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum and Whitney Museum.

The Westport Historical Society, is at 25 Avery Place. For more information, call 203-222-1424 or visit the society's website.

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