‘Tis the season for spooky sights

First Posted: 10/7/2014

Over time, Ward Roe, Keystone College professor and chair of the Division of Fine Arts, has become increasingly interested in the line between the real and the artificial, the actual and the caricature, the humorous and the horrible.

Anyone looking to get in the mood for Halloween can get a thrill out of Roe’s photographs which he will exhibit at Duffy’s Coffee House, 312 S. State St., Clarks Summit, beginning Oct. 10, as part of the Downtown-Go-Around, a free monthly art and performing arts event spearheaded by the Abington Business & Professional Association.

Roe began to photograph Halloween more than 10 years ago, and his project evolved naturally from other images he was making at the time.

He said when it started; he noticed some people in Scranton really bedecked their houses.

“I looked at these houses and they were extraordinarily decorated for Halloween, maybe some for Christmas and Easter…I think they were kind of pop-culture oriented. I started out to document houses that were decorated. They were fun and fun to look at. I thought people put a lot of effort into these things. I started to look at the individual elements that were at or on the houses very closely,” said Roe. “When I started to look at these things through the camera, it became something else – scary, frightening, other worldly or humorous…They had more impact when I looked at them and filled the frame with them.”

His project evolved naturally, and as he explained in his artist’s statement, “The area in which I live has an extraordinary number of homes decorated for the various holidays in stunningly outlandish ways, and with a degree of enthusiasm and perhaps competitiveness that I had never before seen. Some were quirky, some tacky, some unbelievable in scope and sheer effort to produce, and some were frankly terrifying.”

He also noted, “But as I photographed each site, I began to really look at the details, and I became very interested in how these elements changed when they were removed from their context. In some cases, a mask might look like a real face, plastic or rubber – flesh, and mannequins appear to be human.”

Roe’s photos will be on display throughout October. He said of his exhibit at Duffy’s, “(I) thought Mari (Walker, Duffy’s owner) might be interested in putting something up that was seasonal. I also thought some of the patrons might get a kick out of these big, scary pictures – just for the Halloween season.”

Some of the other activities, exhibits and live music planned for Oct. 10 include artists Ruthie Janiszeski and George Penyak/Photographer at Sole to Soul; live music with Whiskey Tango at the Clarks Summit Borough Building and the future home of The Gathering Place, 6 to 9 p.m.; Devon O’Keefe’s work on display at Everything Natural, 6 to 9 p.m.; singer and songwriter Kaitlyn Karr at Duffy’s 7 to 9 p.m.; Muncheeze Food Truck 6 to 9 p.m.; Scarecrow contest and display; and an apple cider stand by Baptist Bible College students.

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