By Kristy MacKaben
For the Mirror
For a glimpse of a different perspective on photography, a trip to the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto is a must. The museum's latest exhibit, "With Old World Eyes: European Photography from the Permanent Collection," will remain on view until May 12.
“Sunset, Esztergom” by Andre Kertesz, [American, b. Hungary, 1894-1985] from the Hungarian Memories Series, 1917.
SAMA features mostly American art, but occasionally showcases pieces from different cultures and areas of the world, offering a unique perspective.
"We're mostly dedicated to American art. We like to put that in context. We thought it was a good opportunity to show what's going on in Europe," Scott Dimond, curator for visual arts at the SAMA at Loretto, said.
The exhibit focuses on the work of photographers from France, Germany, Greece, Hungary and several other countries. The difference between American and European photography is evident through the pieces.
If you go
What: "With Old World Eyes: European Photography from the Permanent Collection"
Where: Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto
When: From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays through May 12
For more information: Visit www.sama-art.org
While American photography is realistic and gritty, Dimond said, European photography is typically more artistic.
Practical photography took hold in many parts of the world in the mid-1800. Ameri-cans embraced photography as a tool to record people and places, according to the SAMA news release. In contrast, Europeans valued photography as an art form.
"The camera, like the brush, became a means of expressing poetic feeling and refined sensibilities," the news release states.
The SAMA exhibit features about 40 pieces by European men and women of various ages and nationalities, but Dimond said the photographs are artistic in nature.
Part of SAMA's permanent collection, the photographs have almost all been donated to the museum over the years.
"They represent all we got in that particular field. There are a lot of great photographers in Europe. They make a nice complement to American photographs," Dimond said. "Some of these we've had since the beginning. Others we acquired just last year."
Though there is a cohesive theme to the exhibit, the photography varies greatly in time period, location, subject matter and style. While some photographs depict historically significant events, others are images of everyday life, objects, street scenes or people. Most of the photographs are from the mid-20th Century, though one photograph is dated 1860.
"It's an excellent cultural experience to see what people from across the pond are viewing and considering art," said Gary Moyer, executive director of SAMA at Loretto. "It's an interesting venue, one I think they can learn from, as well as be exposed to diverse representations."
Moyer said visitors to the Loretto museum are a diverse crowd - from students and professors to members of the community and even people visiting from others states. About 70,000 people a year visit the museums in Altoona, Loretto, Johnstown and Ligonier.
Dimond said there is a lot to learn and appreciate about the European photography exhibit.
"They can learn an appreciation for different ways of looking at things. How would you take a photo or snapshot? What's important when you take a photograph of a scene? These are different ways of doing that," Dimond said. "You'll get a lot out of it and if you're a photographer you'll really get into it."