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Varying moods, settings and perspectives of the Delaware River as captured in the black-and-white photographs of Easton photographer Christopher Boas will be on display in January in the art gallery of Lafayette College’s Williams Center for the Arts.

The exhibition, “Crossings: Views of the Delaware River,” will run January 3 to 30. The gallery also will host a reception for the artist 2-4 p.m. on January 16, and a lecture by Boas at noon on January 19. For more information, call 610-330-5361.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 2-5 p.m. Sundays, and by appointment.

“This exhibition is my interpretation of arguably the most historic river in the country, as well as the only major undammed river on the East Coast,” says Boas. “I have attempted to illustrate the changing character of this watershed as it evolves from a meandering trout stream into a major international seaport.”

Boas’ took his pictures from train, car and foot bridges, spanning scenes over the Delaware River from its headwaters in Hancock, New York to the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Though a few of Boas’ views were from the river banks, most originated from the elevated perspective of the crossings themselves, bridges of varying sizes and ages, notes Stephen Perloff, founder and editor of The Photo Review, a critical journal of photography, and editor of The Photograph Collector, a publication covering the photography art market.

“Here his compositions hew to the classical tradition embodied so nobly in photography by the noted 19th century landscapist Carleton Watkins. Looking straight up or down river, Boas affords us a bird’s-eye view we know from other art, but rarely from life itself: Too often our own river crossings are made in a speeding automobile, an experience that allows us only a fleeting glimpse of the river’s splendor,” notes Perloff.

In some views, the water seems to vanish behind vegetation or a curve, while varying degrees of light present dark, ominous forms or dense layers of leaves shimmering with silvery gray tones. Through Boas’ command of aerial perspective, hills beyond the plane of water slowly fade to light gray or dissolve into an indistinguishable haze, providing a psychological dimension of depth, of receding space and time. Another variable is the water’s course: rippling with movement, or a still mirror reflecting the stolid banks and soft clouds above.

Some pictures are taken along the shore, taking in the crossings themselves. Views in southern New York and upstate Pennsylvania evoke something primeval about the river, which appears ancient and uninhabited in some shots. At Trenton, N.J., the river drops through rapids to near sea level and becomes an estuary for its final 76-mile run to the sea. In a jarring transition, the horizon becomes flat and uninflected and city buildings dominate the plane where the land meets the sky.

Sums up Perloff: “A subject as expansive as the Delaware River cannot be explicated fully in only one way. But by setting up the framework of photographing the river from its crossings, Christopher Boas has completed his goal of familiarizing us with its many facets and led us to a deeper appreciation not only of its larger social ecology, but its importance as the artist’s muse.”

Born in Philadelphia in 1953, Boas moved to Easton in 1990. He lives in Williams Township, working there and in New York City. He has had a long affinity for the Delaware River since he fished in it as a boy.

Boas was one of six photographers selected by guest curator J. M. Welker for The Pleasure in Seeing, a photography exhibition at the Lafayette art gallery two years ago. He was included in the 1997 Allentown Art Museum’s Pennsylvania Photographers 10 exhibition and the museum’s 1995 Pennsylvania Photographers 9. He was selected for a special purchase prize from the 1995 show, through which the museum acquired photographs for its permanent collection. Boas’ photographs also are included in the Polaroid Collection in Rochester, N.Y. Other photography series he has worked on that involve water include Fish Markets in Brazil (1986-87), Thames River Series, and Geysers and Land Formations in Yellowstone. He also compiled the series Living with Megaliths in the British Isles in the late 1980s.

Boas’ work has been published in The New York Times, American Photography Annual, Graphis, Interview Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Metropolitan Home, Garden Design, and Saveur. He is working on a book about the Delaware River, as well as a documentary film about a circle of friends — artists, writers, designers, and Broadway performers — who lived in New York and made independent films in the Easton area in the 1950s.

Lafayette College’s exhibition series is presented under provisions of the Detwiller Endowment, and is funded in part through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency supported by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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