Local photographers Diana Hlywiak and Steve Syd are the artists behind Garmonbozia, a collaboration and collection of individual works by the friends that pays homage to David Lynch and Mark Frost's seminal show Twin Peaks. Previously, the duo has worked together on various projects, including transforming a U-Haul box truck into a massive, mobile pinhole camera that produced enormous 42-by-42-inch negatives.
"We are very excited to show the work of Diana Hlywiak and Steve Syd to celebrate our second anniversary," says CPR founder Shari Wilkins. "The core of their work is rooted in analog film and alternative processes. I met Steve Syd a year before the Print Room opened and he introduced me to Diana's work. Diana debuted two of her works in 2013 at our first-ever student show."
The exhibition's title refers to a concept taken from Twin Peaks that represents pain and sorrow. It was one of the many topics discussed by the pair in the early stages of their friendship. After meeting in a van in 1991 (how all friendships start, right?), Twin Peaks, heavy metal music and photography proved common ground for the artists.
"Garmonbozia is based on a collection of images taken by Steve and me over the past few years," explains Hlywiak. "We have been friends since we were young teenagers, about 13 years old, and met through mutual friends. I attended the Cleveland School of the Arts, and at age 16, set up my own darkroom. Around the same time period, Steve could always be found experimenting with his Super-8 movie camera."
"Our works are very different," says Syd. "She focuses on portraiture while I prefer not shooting people at all. One of our first conversations was about Twin Peaks and photography."
"The Wiki definition calls garmonbozia 'pain and sorrow taking the physical form of creamed corn,'" adds Hlywiak. "When Sherri (Wilkins) asked us back in June to come up with a name, we wanted to incorporate this because of our mutual admiration for the director, as well as the dark quirkiness associated with it."
Hlywiak's colorful, large-scale photos are inspired by Surrealism, dreams, unexplained phenomena, the occult, bizarre characters, supernatural events and comedy. Syd is a pilot-turned-nurse who has been working in film photography for more than 25 years. He experiments with photographic chemistry in the darkroom, and creates his own homemade cameras. Three of Syd's photos for this show were created using a camera made from a repurposed microscope.
"My work is in still life," elaborates Syd. "Any people I happen to shoot are on more of a street photography nature or spur of the monument thing. I like shooting stills because I find it much easier to control the subject. Here is the subject, I can take all the time I need with it, if I don't like the lighting I'll come back later, or come back when the weather is different. I am a hands-on kind of a guy — always tinkering with something. I like the working in the darkroom as opposed to working in Photoshop."
In its first two years, Cleveland Print Room has established itself as a premier resource for film photography in our region. Thanks to the advantages of technology, photography is arguably the fastest growing artistic medium. However, as more and more photographers focus on digital photography, darkroom skills are rapidly becoming a lost art.
"The Print Room's mission specifically aims to advance the art and appreciation of the photographic image in all its forms by providing affordable access to a community darkroom and workspace, gallery exhibitions, educational programs and collaborative outreach," explains Wilkins. "We place a strong emphasis on analog film and alternative processes. We are excited to enter our second year 350 members strong!"
The exhibition runs through February with a closing reception on Friday, Feb. 27, from 5 to 9 p.m. Additional viewing hours are Tuesdays noon to 6 p.m., Wednesdays 3 to 6 p.m., and Thursdays through Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m.