Art Review: photographers Pendygraft and Zambon at The Studio@620

Acclaimed St. Petersburg Times photographer John Pendygraft and local events photographer James Zambon hosted a joint gallery opening last Tuesday at The Studio@620 in downtown St. Petersburg. Pendygraft’s work filled the front gallery, and Zambon’s the David and Astrid Ellis gallery in back; the work is on display at the Studio through Dec. 5.

Pendygraft’s portrait series, entitled “Oldest Old," is comprised of a spectrum of subjects — all 80-and-older Pinellas residents enjoying their lives in memory as much as in action. The black and white series featured “older people with a lot of character,” carefully selected by the photographer. Some, he met through Florida Council on Aging, others he pursued after seeing their briefs in the Neighborhood Times. He hung short biographies next to each photograph, every one telling a unique story. “It was kind of a hodgepodge of pounding the pavement,” he says.

I found two of his subjects in particular quite charming: Lucille Markley, 100, raised Methodist, now spends her Sunday mornings consorting with a Christian biker band and sharing with them her mutual love of music. Lucille spent the majority of Tuesday evening parked in front of her own portrait and, for a moment, was accompanied by her skull-helmeted friend, appearing also in the picture, albeit somewhere in the background.

Raymond Fowler (portrait pictured), 90, was one of Pendygraft’s simpler portraits, I would argue, because the smile on his face says it all. In the picture Raymond, — in  a smart, white suit — is receiving a kiss from an attractive blonde, obviously much younger than himself. He’s squinting one eye and smiling rather sheepishly. But that sheepishness is a rouse, I assure you. My date and I had the pleasure of meeting Raymond later in the evening. We took a Polaroid together. And I can attest, after knowing him for ten minutes, that Raymond loves the ladies.