Opening this week on Jan. 7 as part of Walk All Over Waterloo and running through Feb. 19, the "Homebody: Tim Callaghan & Bridget Caswell"
exhibition at Photocentric Gallery (15515 Waterloo Rd.) includes recent works from both artists focusing on the Collinwood neighborhood created during the pandemic
“Homebody is a collection of portraits that I have been taking since the beginning of the Pandemic,” said Caswell. “This series started when I was riding my bike through my neighborhood with my daughter and heard my neighbor playing the accordion on her porch. I realized in that moment that I needed to show how this affected my community. I joked a lot that it was my therapy. But it really was a way for our neighbors to stay connected.”
Using these images, Caswell put together a portrait series book called “Homebody: A Portrait of Our Community” (available for preorder here)
during the pandemic as way to stay connected to the people in her neighborhood. Caswell, a portrait artist, NASA photographer and longtime Collinwood resident, captures her subjects tenderly and with love.
Caswell concocted the concept of a porch portrait series during the pandemic and went around to her friends and neighbors in North Collinwood to capture images of them, mostly on their porches in respect for social distancing.
‘Homebody’ includes snapshot biographies of the subjects, briefly describing them and their connection to the neighborhood. Caswell also collected insight from these community members’ experiences over the past year. These narratives give the viewer insight into the interconnectedness of a community which has experienced many growing pains in terms of development over the past couple of decades.
"Collinwood is an American dichotomy," Darlene Norwood English wrote in the introduction to Caswell's book. "It’s a mixed neighborhood, of various incomes, professions, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and gender identities. People of Collinwood are doctors, musicians, scientists, authors, lawyers, police officers, municipal employees, people on social security, designers, mechanics, retired, small business owners and everything in between. We are eclectic creators, blue collared, white collared and rainbow collared. We’ve got guts and grit.”
The grit spoken of here is not lost through the observant and inquisitive eye of artist and teacher Tim Callaghan. Graduating with a BFA from The Cleveland Institute of Art in 1999 and an MFA from Kent State University in 2005, Collinwood resident Callaghan stays alert for the seemingly mundane scenes and moments he sees while interacting with the Collinwood neighborhood and either captures a reference photo for a later painting or paints ‘en plein air,’ which is a French term meaning "in the open air.”
The Toledo native keenly observes his subject matters using carefully plotted brush strokes where he expertly captures light, shadow and reflection into a painterly version of reality depicting everyday scenes.
Through the artist’s lens, Callaghan transports the viewer into a dreamlike human atmosphere where the distortions of the reality imposed by the artist add to the story of the image and a narrative is conjured from these otherwise banal scenes from every day existence otherwise overlooked and forgotten.
Callaghan says that he met Caswell 10 years ago when he painted her family’s portrait for an exhibition he had at Waterloo Arts. They've remained friends since and began discussing doing a show together about a year ago when Caswell ended up photographing Callaghan’s family for her porch series.
“We decided on the title 'Homebody' because it perfectly encapsulated the ethos in both of our works and the new realities we all were collectively experiencing throughout these past two years,” said Callaghan. "I have ten new paintings in this show of places in our neighborhood of North Collinwood where we both reside. My gouache paintings on paper explore the particular places through landscape, architecture, color and light. This body of work also serves as a reintroduction of the figure into my paintings, a subject that I have been exploring these last two years."
Owner of Photocentric and curator of "Homebody" Michael Loderstedt added: “I'd like viewers to enter into a conversation of how both these artists have represented their 'home' neighborhood of Collinwood, and perhaps, the differing ways photography and painting serve contemporary representational issues."