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Bridgeport gallery hosts Hearst photo editor’s exhibit

January 23, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — “Forgotten” can refer to a lot of things. It can mean something or someone has been lost to time. It can mean that something has been misplaced and slipped from consciousness while life hurries on.

For Ned Gerard, the word holds lots of meanings as well. Gerard, Hearst Connecticut Media’s photo editor, is having his first solo exhibit at Bridgeport’s City Lights Gallery — titled “Forgotten Panoramas: Roadsides and Waterways” — which opened Thursday and runs through Feb. 21.

Gerard, 51, who lives in Stratford, said the title stems both from the fact that the photos themselves were forgotten for several years, and from the actual loss of many of the structures in the pictures.

“A lot of these these places are obsolete,” said Gerard, who works out of the Connecticut Post offices in Bridgeport. “They’ve disappeared.”

That includes the former carousel house at Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport and the Congress Street bridge in the city, both of which are featured in the show, and both of which have since been demolished.

But it isn’t just loss that ties together the works in the exhibit. Gerard said all 25 photos featured in the show were taken with the same camera, a Hasselblad Xpan, a film camera that takes panoramic images.

The pictures were taken between 2003 and 2013 and represent not just places in Bridgeport (and elsewhere in Connecticut), but spots around the country, including Ohio, rural Virginia, Wisconsin and New York’s Coney Island.

“I’ve worked 25 years in newspaper photography,” said Gerard. “And these have nothing to do with what I do for work. These were done on my own time. What you’re basically looking at here are my vacation photos.”

There are also many shots that were obviously taken on the water, including a few lighthouses. Those pictures were taken with the aid of a kayak, something Gerard invested in shortly after buying the camera.

“The kayak gets me to locations I couldn’t get to by land,” Gerard said.

Gerard took roughly 150 images with the Hasselblad during his travels. But any plans he might have had for the images were abruptly derailed in 2014, when he was diagnosed with leukemia. His illness led him to be in and out of the hospital for treatment, which included a stem cell transplant in May of 2015.

“When I got sick, all that stuff that I had done was sort of put away,” Gerard said.

After 10 months, Gerard was well enough to return to work, but he was more focused on his job, and staying healthy.

“I had forgotten about this project,” he said.

It wasn’t until he ran into City Lights Executive Director Suzanne Kachmar over the summer that he remembered the photos he had taken with the Hasselblad, and they began discussing a show. The end result includes not only the 25 photos he culled from his project, but also photos he has collected over the years, including some inherited from his great uncle, John Gerard, also a photographer.

Kachmar said one reason she wanted to do the show was to kick off the year with an exhibition that at least partially focused on Bridgeport. She also thought Gerard’s photos, many of which prominently feature water, might be a nice balm against the winter blues.

“I thought it would warm people up artistically to look at this work,” Kachmar said.

There will be a reception for “Forgotten Panoramas” from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at City Lights Gallery, 265 Golden Hill St., Bridgeport.

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