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Looking back

Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:00 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Two years' worth of restoration and a lifetime of history were the focus of the Fourth Tuesday Tour at the Huntington Museum of Art Tuesday evening.

The focus of the monthly event was on the exhibition from a blue collar worker, casual photographer and almost undiscovered artist from Huntington, Levi Holley Stone.

The exhibition titled "The Herald-Dispatch Presents: Looking Back: Huntington Through the Lens of Levi Holley Stone," has been on display since May 25, and it features 80 photographs by Stone from years between 1910 and the 1940s. They were discovered in a box of negatives at the Chesapeake Flea Market in 2011 by local filmmaker John Witek.

The negatives had been purchased by the seller at an estate sale following Stone's death in 1981, and Witek said he recognized the photos as something special almost immediately.

"I realized they were not just historical in nature," said Witek. "They were works of art, and I thought, 'What better place than the museum should they be?'"

With the help of The Herald-Dispatch photographer Sholten Singer, the negatives were scanned or digitally photographed and printed by staff at the museum. Local Historian James Casto and Witek worked to identify as many places and people in the photographs as possible.

During the Fourth Tuesday Tour, more than 100 people were guided through the exhibit, which is located in the Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Gallery and provided unique glimpses into Huntington's past, said Margaret Mary Layne, executive director for the Huntington Museum of Art.

She said while photography was fast becoming a popular pastime in the United States during the era of Stone's photography, his eye for composition and his knack for photographing people was ahead of his time.

"He was just a born artist," said Layne. "He had no training, but his eye was amazing. His photos are very important because he is taking photos of what was going on around him in his community. That type of photography was not popular then, and it almost is a precursor to the photojournalism of today."

"The Herald-Dispatch Presents: Looking Back: Huntington Through the Lens of Levi Holley Stone" will be on display until Sunday, Aug. 18.

For more information, visit www.hmoa.org or call 304-529-2701.

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