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A Photographic Journey Through Israel



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A Photographic Journey Through Israel

By Kaaren Valenta

A unique display of photographs by husband and wife, Rita L. Frost and Francis J. Caro of Newtown, is on exhibit through June 28 at Ridgefield Library. A gala opening of  “Journey Through Israel” and a talk will be presented on Thursday, June 15, from 7 to 9 pm.

Now professional photographers, the couple has been well known for their other creative talents. Rita Frost has been a professional painter for more than 30 years, working in acrylics and water colors; her husband was the director of Frank Caro Gallery, on Madison Avenue in New York City, for many years.

“The journey really began in 1962 when we were graduate students at Columbia University and met at a Friday afternoon mixer,” Mr Caro said in an interview at The Bee recently. “We dated for two years, then went our own ways. Rita went to Italy to study art.”

Nearly 35 years passed. Rita Frost was living in Ridgefield, where she was an executive member of the Ridgefield Guild of Artists. Francis was a dealer in Oriental art in Manhattan.

In 1993 she had a sudden urge to call him. She dialed the phone number of his mother’s house in New Jersey in 1993, and was surprised to find him there.

“I had just gotten divorced three weeks before and had moved back to my mother’s house,” Mr Caro said. “We agreed to meet and turned up both wearing the exact same shade of green. I think it was an omen.”

Francis proposed four years later during a journey through Brittany. But something else also happened during that trip which would again change the direction of their lives.

“Rita was taking photographs and they all came out stunning,” Mr Caro said. “We put them in with an exhibit of her paintings, and they sold so well that the following year we decided to go to Italy just for the purpose of photography.”

Francis Caro had been dabbling in a darkroom for years in conjunction with running his gallery. On their 2,000-mile honeymoon throughout Italy they decided to take on the art of photography as their new career. Since then they have won several first place awards in one of New England’s oldest camera clubs, the Candlewood Camera Club in Danbury. Ms Frost’s work also was selected by Ridgefield Historical Society to be displayed in Ridgefield Town Hall.

The couple’s most recent trip was to Israel, where they traveled hundreds of miles, using only local transportation, to capture charming and unusual views of windows, doors, food, architecture and people.

“We shy away from anything that looks like a postcard,” Ms Frost said. “We took over a thousand photographs. Because we have been to Israel several times before, from touring to volunteering, we were able to see the country differently through our camera, not with the eye of a first-time tourist. For us it was an extraordinary photographic journey, searching for the right moments and the right light.”

The adventure led them to visit with interesting and friendly Israelis, including one whom they had met months earlier when they were exhibiting photos of Tuscany in Greenwich Village.

“She told us that we would get wonderful photos in Israel and that we should look her up,” Ms Frost said. “She had been modest in telling us about herself. When we visited Batia Ouziel in Israel, we discovered she was one of Israel’s first ladies of television, an artist who had hosted her own television show for several years.

“She led us on a photographic journey through areas in Jaffa that we had not captured. She, as an artist, understood exactly what we were searching for, and some of these are our most memorable shots.”

Among the couple’s other unique experiences was delivering 20 dolls, handmade by Rita Frost’s mother, Sylvia Frost, 86, to Ethiopian refugee children, whom they also photographed. “Through our photographs, she could now see her creations had indeed found happy homes,” Rita Frost said. “We were so touched by the children. While we captured their faces, they captured our hearts.”

Last year Rita Frost and Francis Caro moved from Ridgefield to a house in the Hattertown area of Newtown. Although both are photographers, Mr Caro spends much of his time matting and framing their selected works, primarily as 8x10 or 8x12 but some as large as 30x40.

For Rita Frost, photography is as creative as painting, but also very different.

“I don’t like paintings to look like photographs,” she said. “I’m impressionistic and abstract in my paintings. Everything I paint is from my head.

“But I like photography to look like paintings,” she continued. “Photographs are especially wonderful when they have a painterly quality. Something poetic, that is what we are always trying to capture, a magical moment so to speak.”

“Journey Through Israel” will be on exhibit through June 28 in the Dayton program room at the Ridgefield Library, 472 Main Street. Refreshments will be served during the June 15 gala opening, and the couple will offer a talk about their trip and its resulting photographs.

The library is at 472 Main Street (Route 35) in Ridgefield. It can be reached by calling 203/438-2282. Rita Frost and Francis Caro can be contacted at 426-8787..

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