Photography is a passion for former Valley Independent managing editor
Historians are still researching and searching for any clues as to the identity of the woman who inspired, if that was the case, Da Vinci to paint the Mona Lisa.
For Frank Jaworoski of West Newton there was no such “aha” moment when he “happened to be standing there at that particular time and it caught my eye, just instantaneous inspiration,” he said, chuckling.
What caught Jaworoski's eye was a side of a building at Friendship Hill National Historic site on the Albert Gallatin estate north of Point Marion.
“I have no idea,” Jaworoski said, regarding what inspired him to snap the photo – an 8½-by-11-inch color photo he titled “Friendship Hill” — of a side of a building, a photo which earned the Ohio State University grad and retired assistant suburban editor of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and managing editor of Valley Independent newspaper a share of the People's Choice Award at the Touchstone Center for Crafts in Farmington earlier this summer, in a juried exhibit sponsored by the Uniontown Art Club.
“No, I am not a professional photographer,” he said. “I consider myself an advanced amateur. I walk around with my camera and when something catches my eye I take a picture. It was a humbling moment to be honored with the People's Choice Award. It's always nice to be recognized and have people like what I do. That award means people saw it and liked it.”
Beverly DeMotte, president of the Uniontown Art Club, explained that the People's Choice Award is voted on by visitors who are encouraged to vote for their favorite piece of art.
Jaworoski, incidentally, shared the award with Peter Pasqua of Uniontown, for his wood sculpture, “Owen Nelson, MD.”
With a bachelor of arts degree in journalism, Jaworski's professional career began as a writer, working for small papers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and admits that his alter-ego career as a photographer began in the most mundane of ways.
“I became involved in photography in the late 1960s when I picked up a camera in New York City and started shooting there,” he recalls. “From there it was photography courses and I was fortunate to be able to combine photography with my journalism.” Jaworoski, however, admits that he comes from an art-based family and in one form or another art has been present throughout his life. His brother is a painter/sculptor, and his wife, Terri, a former teacher, makes jewelry and paints watercolors.
Originally from Avon Lake, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, he moved to western Pennsylvanian in the mid-1980s. Since relocating, he has shown his photos at Touchstone, where each of the three photographs he submitted for the juried exhibition was selected for display, Friendship Hill, the DV8 gallery in Greensburg, and Arts Monongahela Gallery in Morgantown, where he was recently honored with a third place award for his photo.
“I walk around with my camera and when something catches my eye I take a picture,” Jaworoski said. “My focus is on the image. It's not the process or the camera; but the final image that is important. That final image is the holy grail of photography. I never thought about doing photography for a living. Rather, photography is a creative outlet for me. This has become my passion.”
If there is an inspiration for his photos, it's the Yough River bike trail, he mused, along with virtually all of western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and western Maryland, all amazing areas to explore and photograph, he said.
Obviously and much closer to home, Jaworoski added, “There are lot of treasures such as Friendship Hill. This is where I focus my artistic eye. There is so much to offer.”
Jeannie Kuhn, executive director of Arts Monongahela, first met Jaworoski when he submitted photos for an exhibition.
“This was a juried exhibit, and I was very impressed with the three photos he submitted,” Kuhn said, noting the exhibit was juried by Michael Sherman, who teaches photography at West Virginia University. “His photos have a beautiful, painterly-like softness quality, and I loved his use of color. Frank has a keen eye and I enjoyed his photography and his participation in the exhibit.”
In September, Jaworoski's photos will move to Friendship Hill, and he is busy putting together books of photos, “to share what I've seen through my photographs,” he said. “My photography represents my eye and is the focus of my passion, my heart.”
Les Harvath is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.