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  • The Shop--Photographs of European Auto of Rye by Carol Van Loon at Levy Gallery

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    PORTSMOUTH—What started out as a simple changing of tires became a photographic project during the COVID-19 pandemic for New Hampshire Art Association artist Carol Van Loon.
    Titled, “The Shop,” Van Loon’s photographs of European Auto of 487 Sagamore Road in Rye will be exhibited during the month of September at the association’s Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery. She also published a book of the same title that will be for sale during the exhibition. 
    “It’s quiet. COVID-19 has made it quieter,” Van Loon describes in her book how she came to create this series of photographs.
    “Just me and Doug (Bennett) in the garage this morning, we catch-up as he changes out my snow tires. Taking it all in as I stand in the doorway, the early spring light filtering in, jazz playing in the background the garage showed itself to me.”
    Van Loon has been in European Auto’s garage countless times for oil changes, tires, brakes and she said she always learned something new about cars, particularly VWs.
    “Something always catches my eye as I wait. Doug is everywhere: music, cars, bikes, people,” she recalls in her book. 
    “As I stood in the doorway this morning, I looked beyond the music posters and car mementoes; I was back in my dad’s tool shed,” she wrote. 
    “Originally a hen house that housed tools and machinery, it was a place you could always find that tool or piece of wire that you needed. It had a dirt floor; a big workbench; nooks and crannies full of cans of nuts and bolts; chains hanging off of hooks; dripping oil cans; bailing twine; seed and fertilizer.”
    Van Loon said she photographed there a lot when she “was a kid.”
    “Dad asked me what I saw in that small shed that I thought was so photogenic,” she recalls. “All he saw was the odds and ends of a working farm. I don’t think I ever gave him a good answer. Now I could say it was the sense of place, a place I felt comfortable in; that told a story.”
    She discovered that at European Auto.
    “Looking to my left and right I saw the past and present just as I always did in the tool shed. Out came my iPhone; I raised it up and began capturing ‘The Shop’.”
    Van Loon is a black and white photographer who lives in Dover. She grew up on a farm in western New York where she learned how to see: wheat swaying in the breeze, the many textures of a vegetable garden, a cow’s long eye lashes, aged wood, trees and lots of rock.
    She studied photography at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, after learning the basics in high school. She is a member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, New Hampshire Art Association and New Hampshire Society of Photographic Artists.
    Van Loon has always photographed the places and objects she is surrounded by with an interest in what humans have touched and how it relates to the landscape, and also studies architectural details, textures, shapes and how light effects them all.
    Some of Van Loon’s recent photographic projects include “Barns,” a year-long healing journey she began after losing her mother. Roaming through farmland in multiple states, she photographed barns, creating a book and exhibition to commemorate the vanishing landscape of her childhood. 

    Another series, “All About Me,” is of self-portraits exploring her inner thoughts and she is presently working on a series of photographs of herself and a crinoline skirt.
    Van Loon has participated in many group and solos shows over the last 40 years. She is now helping at NHAA with Exhibitions.
    NHAA is following the city of Portsmouth's guidelines that masks are not required for those who have been vaccinated, however if visitors are more comfortable setting up a time to view the exhibit by appointment outside of gallery hours, they can call (603) 431-4230 to set up a time.
    Go & Do
    “The Shop” – Photography by Carol Van Loon: Exhibition and Sale
    Where: Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery,136 State Street, Portsmouth NH, and online at www.nhartassociation.org
    When: Sept.1 to Sept. 26. Opening reception at the Levy Gallery, Friday, Sept. 3, from 5 to 8 p.m.
    Gallery hours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sundays from 12 to 5 p.m.

    “The Shop: Books,” a photograph by Carol Van Loon, will be on exhibit in a show titled, "The Shop," at the Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery, in September.

    “The Shop: Tools of the Trade,” a photograph by Carol Van Loon, a photograph by Carol Van Loon, will be on exhibit in a show titled, "The Shop," at the Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery, in September.

    “The Shop,” a photograph by Carol Van Loon, a photograph by Carol Van Loon, will be on exhibit in a show titled, "The Shop," at the Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery, in September.