David Puntel and the Fryeburg Fair Photographs

The Maine Art Scene
Maine Arts & Culture Online Magazine
Editor: Brenda Bonneville

On View Through December 20, 2013 at Fryeburg Academy ( On Campus in The PACE Galleries of Art )

(Fryeburg, ME) Two years ago, former Casco, Maine artist David Puntel, decided to create photographic portraits at the Fryeburg Fair. It so happens that the Fair has been ongoing since 1851, the year the historic photographic process that Puntel practices, ambrotypes, started to be introduced to the public by photography studios. What would it be like, he wondered, to spend several days at the Fryeburg Fair making portraits of those who compete with their livestock to win ribbons and glory using the photographic process that would have been employed during the Fair's beginning decades for the same purpose?

Two years later, on Saturday, September 14, 2013, "Fryeburg Fair" opened at the Palmina F. and Stephen S. Pace Galleries of Art, Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center at Fryeburg Academy, where over 60 ambrotype portraits taken by David Puntel during the 2012 Fair are on view through December 20, 2013. Also on view are contemporary Fair photographs taken by Rachel Andrews Damon and vintage 1950s and 1960s Fair photographs taken by O.B. Denison. The project and resulting exhibit was made possible by funding provided by the Fryeburg Fair, Fryeburg Academy, the Maine Humanities Council and the Maine Arts Commission.

An ambrotype is one of the processes of making images that comes under the category of "wet collodion" and is the glass precursor to the tintype. Making an ambrotype photograph is an all day process starting with a coated glass plate inserted into a large format camera. After a 5-10 second exposure (hard to hold people and animals still that long, resulting in a little blurriness from time to time), the plate must be immediately submerged into its first chemical bath. Several more stages of drying and different chemical baths are employed until the negative image on glass emerges. The glass negative is then painted black on the back to create a positive, and the image is finally protected with a coat of lavender oil. David Puntel's camera was made around 1900 and the lens he uses is from the 1860s. 

David Puntel is represented by VoxPhotographs (www.voxphotographs.com) of Portland and Belfast. For more information, please call 207-323-1214 or e-mail info@voxphotographs.com.