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The photos are up — around 700 of them — and the photographers are in town from more than two dozen countries, all awaiting today’s opening of the fourth edition of Eyes on Main Street.
The annual event that started with 100 large-scale photos displayed along Nash Street for 100 days has blossomed. This year’s event includes photo displays in eight indoor and outdoor galleries in downtown Wilson.
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” said Jerome De Perlinghi, an international photographer who started the festival soon after moving to Wilson.
On Saturday, the visiting photographers whose work hangs in the main exhibit will mingle with local residents and others who have come to town to launch this year’s show.
The free event kicks off at 4:30 p.m. with a reception at 203 Nash St. for the youngsters who took part in last year’s children’s photo workshop. At 5:30, the main party starts along Douglas Street, behind Imagination Station, and will include free barbecue, while it lasts, and music by Fireside Collective.
De Perlinghi says people from Wilson enjoy the photo festival each year. He knows because he stops and talks to many of them as he walks downtown each day.
People from outside the area come as well, not only to see the photos but to participate in workshops tied to Eyes on Main Street.
The fourth edition’s main gallery show, “Mainstreet, A Crossroads of Culture,” features 100 photos taken by photographers in 35 countries. There are an equal number of male and female photographers.
The featured photos appear a bit harsher than in previous years, De Perlinghi said, perhaps reflecting a current world mood. Some show extreme poverty and war-torn villages, but others reflect a lighter look at life including a colorful image of children at play and another of a happy couple.
De Perlinghi pointed out that photos by two renowned photographers are in the show this year main show: American-born French photographer William Klein and Magnum photographer Alex Webb.
If you plan to see this year’s main show, make sure you check the main show along Nash Street as well as the other exhibits:
• In the Outdoor Kids Gallery, 54 large-scale photos taken during the 2017 children’s workshops are displayed on custom-made wooden frames. Employees from 3-C, which also donates and prints the festival photos, built and assembled the wooden framework that holds the large-scale photos. Each photo includes the name of the young photographer. For the last three years, Canon USA has teamed up with Columbia College Chicago to offer photography lessons to Wilson youth. For the 2017 classes, 97 children ages 7 to 15 participated and took around 10,000 images. The outdoor gallery is located behind Imagination Station.
• During last year’s Eye on Main Street, photographer Judith Rodriguez spent a week in Wilson taking street portraits. Rodriguez shot closeups of citizens from all walks of life. Most photos were taken within a mile and a half of downtown, De Perlinghi said. Forty of her black and white portraits are displayed on a brick wall in the garden behind Imagination Station, in view of the Outdoor Kids Gallery.
• Twenty-four photos by Jasmine Clark, a student at Columbia College, are displayed on a wall near the intersection of Nash and Douglas Street, in the block across from Imagination Station. Walk around the side of the former Wig Mart at 231 E. Nash St. to see the photos.
In addition to the outdoor shows, there are several indoors events as well:
• Imagination Station will host Eyes on Ukraine featuring contemporary photographers Alexander Chekmenev, Igor Chekackhov, Eugeny Kom, Lana Yankovska and Vitaly Fomenko. The show opens on Saturday and runs the length of the photo festival during museum hours.
• Eyes on India will also be housed at Imagination Station and will also include contemporary photography. Artists included in the show are Deepti Astana, Vinita Barretto, Vinod Babu, Subrata Biswas, Sharbendu De, Swarat Ghose and Mouhamed Moustapha. The show opens on Saturday and runs the length of the photo festival during museum hours.
• A new exhibit this year will feature the photography of the first Eyes on Main Street resident photographers, Jan Wunsch, Juan Arrendondo, Remy Artiges, Keith Dannemiller, Juan Giraldo, Juan Madrid, Diana Bagnoli and Jeremy Dennis. The photographers come for a month-long residence and take photos of life around Wilson. De Perlinghi said residents will enjoy seeing themselves or someone they know in the photos. Look for this show inside the former Wig Mart at 231 E. Nash St. That location also has a few festival-related items for purchase. If you’d like to volunteer to help man this location, call De Perlinghi at 708-271-3042.
• And don’t forget to drop in 203 E. Nash St. today to see the photos taken by area children this week a part of this year children’s workshop, a joint effort of Canon USA and Columbia College Chicago.
For a list of lectures and workshops taking place this weekend, visit http://www.eyesonmainstreetwilson.com/news/.