Lifelong Brooklyn Resident Shows 70 Years of Family Photos in New Exhibit

By Janet Upadhye on April 4, 2014 8:55am 

DUMBO — A lifetime's worth of photos are hanging on the gallery walls at United Photo Industries.

Photographer Jerry Vezzuso is showcasing images of his family spanning more than 70 years to give viewers an intimate look at the passage of time in his latest exhibit entitled "Table of Contents."

Family members took some of the show's images before Vezzuso's birth in 1944 while others were taken by the widely published photographer himself over the last five decades. He juxtaposes the old family photos with more contemporary images to show a complete picture of an Italian working-class family in Brooklyn.

"I feel I can show what an entire life is like photographically," Vezzuso, 70, said. "I feel that is my advantage."

The School of Visual Arts professor primarily chose images of his parents, both of whom were born in Little Italy, from their wedding day until just before each passed away.

Many photos were taken by his father, who had a passion for art and photography, but worked as a city bus driver and token collector to support his family. The oldest picture in the show is a shot of Vezzuso's mother taken by his father in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden circa 1942.

"He posed my mom. Her skirt is spread out and she is leaning on one arm," Vezzuso said. "I am so impressed with his photos. Even as a child looking through the albums I remember being impressed."

The most recent photograph in the show is also of Vezzuso's mother, but this time it was taken by the Brooklyn Heights resident himself before her death in 2000.

"There is a melancholy feeling when I look at these photos," he said. "It’s the loss. It's the growing old that has become reality."

Several other photographs show the dining table — inspiration for the show's name "Table of Contents" — in their Bay Ridge home as a focal point around which they gathered.

"The table was the center of how we related to each other," he said. "That is the place where you could speak, ask, talk, and also where everyone would play cards, smoke, drink. Everything would happen around the table."

"Table of Contents" is on display April 3 through May 24 at United Photo Industries located at 111 Front Street, Suite 204 in DUMBO.

The artist reception takes place April 3 at 6 p.m.

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