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See the world at Eyes on Main Street

Posted on December 29, 2021

WAW
During opening day’s First Walk, Adrian White, a Beddingfield High School graduate, explains his photograph that’s included in
the Eyes on Main Street photography festival in Wilson.

Drew C. Wilson | For Wide Awake

During opening day’s First Walk, Adrian White, a Beddingfield High School graduate, explains his photograph that’s included in the Eyes on Main Street photography festival in Wilson.

Photos extend throughout downtown Wilson with the Eyes on Main Street exhibit.

Drew C. Wilson | For Wide Awake

Photos extend throughout downtown Wilson with the Eyes on Main Street exhibit.

During opening day’s First Walk, Adrian White, a Beddingfield High School graduate, explains his photograph that’s included in
the Eyes on Main Street photography festival in Wilson.

Drew C. Wilson | For Wide Awake

During opening day’s First Walk, Adrian White, a Beddingfield High School graduate, explains his photograph that’s included in the Eyes on Main Street photography festival in Wilson.

Photos extend throughout downtown Wilson with the Eyes on Main Street exhibit.

Drew C. Wilson | For Wide Awake

Photos extend throughout downtown Wilson with the Eyes on Main Street exhibit.

Photos extend throughout downtown Wilson with the Eyes on Main Street exhibit.
During opening day’s First Walk, Adrian White, a Beddingfield High School graduate, explains his photograph that’s included in
the Eyes on Main Street photography festival in Wilson.

Now in its seventh year, the Eyes on Main Street photography festival turns the streets of Historic Downtown Wilson into an outdoor photo gallery. One hundred large-scale photographs by 100 international photographers line the outdoor walls and windows of downtown businesses for a mile along Barnes, Lodge and Nash streets.

The seventh Eyes on Main Street festival opened in October and will end on March 30.

“Think of the festival as an open-air museum that never closes,” said Jerome De Perlinghi, artistic director of Eyes on Main Street.

So what makes this exhibition worthy of a visit? De Perlinghi says that viewing art these days has become something of a lost, well, art. 

“Nowadays, we have a ton of information that comes through our phones, and the screen of the phone is maybe a couple of inches wide and a couple of inches high,” De Perlinghi said. “So you see a photograph on the phone that is maybe 2 inches wide, and suddenly you see a photograph (in the Eyes exhibit) that is basically 125 inches, well, you see different things. It opens your eyes because you now see everything.”

“Everybody is bound to discover different types of stories” De Perlinghi continued. “We love that people build their own imagination around whatever photo they see. The sheer size of the photographs allows you to become very creative in your own mind. On your phone, you flip quickly to the next photo, and you can see a whole show in 25 seconds, but you really have not seen a thing.

De Perlinghi views the exhibit pieces nearly every single day when he walks his dog and is amazed at new details he discovers in the photographs.

“I love the fact that I can still discover new details even after selecting the photographs and installing them on the walls.”

Some of the criteria used for selecting which photographs to use for each exhibit boils down to “feeling.”

“Something we try to do when selecting the photographs for the exhibition is, sure, some of the photos are jovial, but we also show that not all the world is happy,” De Perlinghi said. “It’s part of the education process — we love to smile, we love to laugh, but that’s not possible every day, so that’s why we have a combination of all different atmospheres and feelings. And if you don’t feel like looking at a sad photo, then fine … you just move onto the next one and you find something that makes you laugh.”

For those who are unable to travel internationally, the Eyes on Main Street exhibit can give viewers a sense of travel.

“We hear that a lot from younger people who say, ‘Oh, now I can feel like I’ve traveled the world,’” De Perlinghi said. “Of course, it’s not exactly the same, but you can visualize the place, maybe wake something inside of you that makes you really want to go to that location. It’s a way to offer a world vision to all our viewers. We’re maybe trying to sell the dream of travel as well.”

If a group of people, like a book club or any other club, would like a private tour, De Perlinghi is willing to accommodate them. He only asks for a week’s notice so that he is sure to be in the gallery. 

The typical walking tour is just shy of 90 minutes and starts at the gallery on Goldsboro Street. 

“Back and forth, it’s a short mile,” De Perlinghi said. “And it is not a walking exercise. You go from one photo to the next and stop and talk about each photo.”

The Eyes on Main Street non-profit also offers month-long photography residencies in Wilson to U.S. and international photographers, although the COVID-19 pandemic halted the program until July of this year, and international photographers have just recently been allowed to travel to the United States.

An expanded youth photography workshop sponsored by Eyes on Main Street begins in mid-January at The SPOT in Wilson. Thirty selected young photographers will take part in a weekly class for six weeks. At the end of that time, 15 of those students will be chosen to complete four more weeks of the program, culminating in an April exhibit showcasing the best photography of those 15 students.

The Eyes on Main Street gallery hosts a rotating series of exhibits throughout the year at its ​​​​​​​126-128 Goldsboro St., Wilson location. Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Friday. 

The eighth edition of Eyes of Main Street is already being curated by its artistic team and will open in October. 

For more information about the Eyes on Main Street outdoor photography festival and to arrange a private group tour, contact Jerome De Perlinghi at eyesonmainstreetinc@gmail.com or visit the website at www.eyesonmainstreetwilson.com.

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