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Seventy-Three-Year-Old Queens Photographer Debuts 1964 World’s Fair Photos in LaGuardia Community College Exhibition
Long Island City, NY—August 4, 2014—Charles “Carl” Barnett has taken thousands of photographs during his 73 years on the planet. But few people have seen them.
“I would print them a few of them and put them in a box in a closet in my house,” said Barnett, a retired federal bank examiner who volunteers in LaGuardia Community College’s photography program. “ Most of them are on color slides. I would show some of them to friends using a slide projector when I visited, but that’s about it.”
That changed earlier this year after Javier Larenas, Tenured Senior College Lab Technician and Adjunct Lecturer in LaGuardia’s photography program, happened to see Barnett sorting through some of his work.
“Is that the World’s Fair?” Larenas asked, and Barnett said yes.
“This is how I was introduced to his work,” said Larenas, who was so impressed with Barnett’s 1964 World’s Fair pictures that he and Gallery Director Lidiya Kan have put together Barnett’s first exhibition, “Fading Images”, a collection of 22 of Barnett’s 1964 World’s Fair pictures now on display in the LaGuardia Gallery of Photographic Arts, 1st Floor Gallery in the B-Building.
Barnett, who grew up and still lives in Queens, visited the 1964 World’s Fair, held in Queen’s Flushing Meadows park, a lot. “When I see these pictures it’s like I am still there,” he said.
Some of that déjà vu feeling stems from the people in Barnett’s photos; his mother, stepfather, an aunt, a cousin, and even Barnett himself appear in the photos, which show forgotten World’s Fair icons like the cable cars floating by overhead.
Barnett took some of his pictures with a German Voigtlander camera he borrowed from an uncle. While most of the photographs were taken with Kodak film, he also used Dynachrome, a new at the time (and since discontinued) film which, because of its color schemes, gave the pictures “an almost otherworldly look.”
One of the five exhibition cases in Barnett’s show includes three un-retouched Dynachrome images.
Larenas said the exhibition is important because “this happens to be the fiftieth anniversary year and we have a younger generation that doesn’t even know that the World’s Fair actually took place here in Queens. Plus, with all the World’s Fair pictures I have seen, three quarter’s of Carl’s pictures are of things I have never seen.”
“This is my life story,” Barnett said. “I loved this Fair. Anybody who lived through this knows this was a magical time that brought the world to Queens - literally. A lot of people knocked it as overly commercial, but to us it was exciting. We didn’t want it to end.”
“Fading Images” will be on display until the first week of September. Larenas said “We are looking at other venues to allow Carl’s photographs to be viewed by a wider audience.”
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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success education underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.