Who Brought the Dramamine: Currently on Exhibit in the Neuberger Gallery at Image City Photography Gallery

When Harry Littell was at the Broome County Fair, he overheard a young woman ask her parents, “Who brought the Dramamine?” After he returned home and shared this comment with his wife, she suggested he use it as the title for his series of photos that look at the people and activity surrounding the rides, events and food trucks at county fairs. The pieces that Harry has on exhibit in the Neuberger Gallery are part of a project that is still in progress. Harry says that the intimacy of the Neuberger Gallery is a perfect venue for this display.

Harry Littell

Because Harry has enjoyed the fair in Tompkins County for many years, he thought it would be fun to visit other fairs in the area to make photographs.  In the summer of 2022, he found the time and momentum to get started.  He visited six county fairs and discovered that they are all similar, yet different.  For example, at the Steuben County Fair in Bath, there was an event he had never seen before: a riding lawn mower and demolition derby, where people smash into each other on their riding mowers.  

Ferris Wheel by Harry Littell

Harry says that after visiting a number of county fairs, he found that the images he liked best were “all taken during the twilight period.  Because twilight is so fleeting, this became a challenge.” To create a larger body of images that work together, he needed to be conscious of the time of day and the light because he “only had a narrow window of time in which to make the photographs.”

Demolition Derby by Harry Littell

One of Harry’s favorite photos in this series is Demolition Derby, Tompkins County Fair, 2022. Harry says “It’s a moment that tells a story.”  In the foreground a yellow VW races backwards for the kill.  A haze of burning motor oil hangs over the scene.  The spectators illuminated in the background are thrilled by the spectacle.  Behind them there is a glimpse of the ferris wheel.  This was the youth demolition derby.  A teenager is driving each car with a parent in the passenger seat.  It is a violent scene but also very beautiful.”

Harry, who lives in Ithaca, NY is a fine art photographer who thinks of his studio broadly as the upstate New York region. A sense of place is important in his work.  Harry has taught photography at Tompkins Community College in Dryden for many years.  He says he has learned a lot from his students.  “Their work is full of surprises, which helps me to see the world in new ways.”  Harry and his students sometimes drive to Cortland and have dinner at the Hollywood Restaurant and then photograph downtown Cortland at twilight.  Teaching his students about light has helped Harry to see light better.

Some of Harry’s favorite learning activities have included cross-discipline collaborations, community research projects, photo field trips, and self-published photo books.

When asked what message Harry hopes viewers of his exhibit might gain after seeing his photos, he references a movie that he loves called Wings of Desire. In the film two angels, Damiel and Cassiel, walk unseen amongst people and observe the beautiful and sad things that occur in West Berlin.  Damiel and Cassiel meet up in a library and compare notes about the poetic moments they have witnessed such as “A woman closed her umbrella in a rainstorm.”  Harry says “photography is often like that.  Trying to be an invisible observer. Recording. Interpreting. Bringing moments to the gallery to share. If I’m lucky, people will be moved by the images and when they leave the gallery, they might look at the world slightly differently.”

Fried Dough by Harry Littell

Fans of nostalgia will be drawn to this collection of photographs that capture the essence and spirit of traditional county fairs. The images showcase various attractions and activities that have been popular for years in county fairs. From the ticket booth to the mouth-watering food stalls, each photo brings back fond memories of simpler times. The colors are vibrant and the attention to detail is commendable, truly capturing the essence of the fair atmosphere.  Harry’s exhibit promises an enjoyable journey for anyone who has ever enjoyed going to county fairs, whether in their youth or in the present. 

After visiting Image City and seeing Harry’s exhibit, if you would like to see additional photos by Harry, click on the links below:

https://soagithaca.org/harry-littell/  (Harry is a member of the State of the Art Gallery in Ithaca, where he frequently exhibits his photos.)

Instagram: @harry.littell 

To leave a comment or question please type it in the comment box below.

2 responses to “Who Brought the Dramamine: Currently on Exhibit in the Neuberger Gallery at Image City Photography Gallery”

  1. I love his attention to creative detail so that each image tells a story. I also appreciate Harry’s discipline to deliberately plan his visit to different venues, with similar light conditions, pulling the full exhibit into a novel.

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