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Photo exhibit contrasts past, present

| Saturday, July 27, 2013, 6:13 p.m.
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Jacob Miller, curator of the Somerset Historical Center, works on a display of the photographs of the late Walt Bowen.
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Jacob Miller, curator of the Somerset Historical Center, holds a Graflex RB Series B single lens reflex camera (c. 1930), used by the late Walt Bowen. Other Bowen cameras also are on display.

The Laurel Highlands Photography Club and the Somerset Historical Society have partnered on an exhibit, “Then and Now,” which chronicles the work of the late Somerset County-based photographer Walt Bowen on the 10th anniversary of his passing.

Bowen was a prolific artist who captured life in Somerset County from the 1940s through the 1990s, said Ron Bruner of the Laurel Highlands Photography Club. Bowen focused especially on family portraits.

Jodi Brougher, president of the Laurel Highlands Photography Club, said Bowen's work has great historic merit.

“He chronicled the changes in the local landscape,” Brougher said. “You still see some of the original structures that existed when he lived.”

The exhibit features Bowen's photos, which were selected by the Laurel Highlands Photography Club. Members of the Club then shot pictures from the same locations at which the original photos were taken. Some structures, such as the Pine Grill restaurant and the Somerset Drug store, still exist. Other structures have changed — for example, Critchfield Hardware is now a Chinese restaurant.

Marc Ware, executive director of the Somerset Historical Society, welcomes this partnership between the society and the Laurel Highlands Photography Club.

“It brings the community together,” Ware said. “We had nearly 20,000 of Walt Bowen's negatives. We also had the gallery space. These photos document the changes that have happened in Somerset County.”

The exhibit will run through September.

The Somerset Historical Society is located on Route 601, 4 miles north of Somerset.

For more information, call the Historical Society at 814-445-6077.

Barbara Starn is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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