Slovak photographers get first show at East Shore Unitarian Church

Co-sponsored by Group f/5.6, a Bellevue-based photography group, and the East Shore Unitarian Church Adult Programs, the show's images span the time of work from those in Slovakia who lived through and after the occupation of Nazi Germany, the rise of the Soviet Union and the country's current state of affairs.

Ron Hammond

For maybe the first time ever, the works of five photographers from Slovakia are on display in the United States, in a small gallery at the East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue.

The show, “Six Contemporary Slovak Photographers,” a collection of images from five photographers and a husband-and-wife duo, opened last week in the foyer of the church’s administration building.

Co-sponsored by Group f/5.6, a Bellevue-based photography group, and the East Shore Unitarian Church Adult Programs, the show’s images span the time of work from those in Slovakia who lived through and after the occupation of Nazi Germany, the rise of the Soviet Union and the country’s current state of affairs.

“There was a seeding cauldron of interest in experimental photography,” said to Ron Hammond, f5.6’s chief of stuff. “These are the people who stayed behind (and were born and raised) following the Nazi regime.

Curator David Koronthaly, whose family hails from Slovakia, told the group he could gather together the artist’s work during his then-upcoming 2013 summer trip and the members jumped at the opportunity to be the first to showcase these works, according to Hammond.

“As far as we know, this is the first time these works have ever been shown in the U.S.,” Hammond said. “We’re pretty juiced. Theses people are well-known in their world, but have never been heard of here.”

Works from the five photographers, Viola Krupova, Boris Nemeth, Jozef Sedlak, Lubomir Stacho and his wife Monika, and Elva Vlasic, include a myriad of styles and techniques ranging from the political to the surreal.

Lubomir, for example, photographed the same store front in Bratislava for 40 years. He apparently chose that particular location in the country’s capitol, as a statement to showcase the changing political climate of the area throughout the years, Hammond said.

In contrast, Krupova’s work blends Eastern European artists, such as Rene Magritte and his iconic image “The Son of Man,” which depicts a man wearing a bowler hat with a green apple in front of his face, and mixes it with other works and stylized photography to make her own comment on the art.

“The photographers in this show share a common spirit of experimentation — of extending the two-dimensional representation of a static photographic image,” Koronthaly said. “They apply unusual angles, lights, movement, collage, long exposures and subject participation to imbue their work with visual energy and uniqueness.”

The show runs now through Jan. 29, 2015. The gallery is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays. Hammond suggested calling the office for potential Saturday hours.

A closing gallery is scheduled for Jan. 28 and one of the artists, Vlasic, is currently slated to attend.

For more information about the gallery, contact Hammond at 425-746-0165.

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