Larry Lundy

“Looking East of Etown – Third Wave,” an art exhibit now on display in Curt’s Café South  through March, grew out of Evanston resident Larry Lundy’s frequent trips to the lake, sometimes on bicycle.

Mr. Lundy, professionally a production designer and set decorator, was interested in the lake when he lived in Chicago. But his full blown fascination with the body of water came after moving to Evanston in 1999.

“I have friends who also take pictures of the lake from Edgewater and Rogers Park…but for me, I can get up close  and  personal much easier in ‘Etown,’ he said, employing an affectionate nickname for Evanston, “and I can’t get enough
of it.”

Mr. Lundy said he began taking rides to the lake about 10 years ago, while going through a divorce. He said he took the rides, which he described as “meditative,”  at all times of  the year…“so I would,  as with Monet’s  haystacks, see something fresh every time.”

He said a second and perhaps more critically important reason behind the project was Lisa Degliantoni, owner of an art gallery in Evanston and a longtime major arts mover and cultural catalyst in the local arts community.

“Her gallery, 1100 Florence, is down the block from where I live, and she asked me to show my work at Backlot Coffee
on Central Street, which opened Feb. 2, 2018,” he said. “Interestingly, enough, on Friday, Jan. 26, I was hit broadside by a car at a four-way stop. Luckily, nothing was broken, except my bike. I was pretty beat up and badly bruised, but I was able to hang the show the following Thursday with the generous help of three friends  and my son.”

Professionally, Mr. Lundy has made his mark as a successful production designer and set designer, with his work featured in film and TV productions such as “Native Son,” “High Fidelity,” “ER,” “The Babe,” “Mind of the Married Man,” “Flatliners,” “V.I. Warshawski,” “Mind Games” and  more.

Mr. Lundy, whose work has been shown at the Art Institute of Chicago, the New Museum in New York, A-Space in Toronto and other top galleries, does not view himself as a photographer, but rather as “an artist who uses images in my work.

“And the thing for me is choosing the right time, the right lighting, the composition,” said Mr. Lundy.

The title for the series, “Looking East of ETown – Third Wave,” refers primarily to taking photos from two vantage points along the Evanston coast: Greenleaf Beach and the northern tip of Northwestern’s island, he said.

The lake photographs intentionally avoid people, structures, boats  and, outside of one lone exception, sea gulls, he acknowledged.

“I want it to be a reckoning of the lake at dusk primarily. I am lucky enough to have a ‘preview’ window in my kitchen where I can see the lake sky and determine whether a quick trip to grab a few pictures is worth the effort,” said Mr. Lundy, who used his Samsung Gallery camera phone to capture the spur-of-the-moment images.

Mr. Lundy, originally from Buffalo, N.Y., was a founding member of  “Hallwalls,” an artists-run gallery in that city.  “We were inspired by the conceptual work of the day…” he explained, “but for me, coming from a working-class family, I always wanted to make work that hopefully anyone can appreciate without an explanation on the wall. There could be a theory behind it … but it had to work on its own.”

He said the commonality between his work as a production designer and photographer “is seeing compositions and capturing them for future  reference. I am always observing … especially the layers of an environment … when I created a record store for ‘High Fidelity’ and a Czech corner-market for ‘ER,’ I visited many  existing venues  to get and combine ideas … for the  offices of  the  pilot ‘Mind Games’ series I invented a new look for  a contemporary  detective  agency … I am a fortunate fellow,” he concluded.

The Third Wave in the exhibit’s title is simply a reference to the fact it was the  third show of Mr. Lundy’s work in 2018. He has an idea for a Fourth Wave of a project on his favorite subject.

“I’d love to see an installation of cameras along the Evanston coastline to document the lake for one year,” he said. “We shall see.”

Bob Seidenberg is an award-winning reporter covering issues in Evanston for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.