Now in their 23rd year, the annual Focus photography exhibits presented by the Wilton Arts Council have the distinction of being judged by a panel of three notable area photographers. Open to people of any age regardless of town of residence, they regularly attract photographers and viewers from some 30 towns and cities in CT and NY. They are open to the public and are on view each year during the month of March at the Wilton Library. Focus, with its large field of photographers across its three divisions – Adult, High-School Student, and Youth (8th grade and younger) – is a testament to the growing interest in this powerful form that blends art/expression and reality/reportage in ways that are being tested in the digital age.
A Brief Timeline of Focus
- Mid 1990s: The exhibit is started by local photojournalist Alex von Kleydorff, initially with two divisions: professional and amateur. The High School division is added a few years later at the request of the art teacher at Wilton High School.
- Early exhibits: Initially are not scheduled for the same month each year. Put on hold when construction begins on the Library’s expansion, the exhibits are afterward rescheduled to March and the maximum size limitation for entries is removed.
- FOCUS ’07: The Youth division is introduced in memory of Lenwood Freas, a visionary former Wilton Arts Council officer who traced his start in the arts back to a community art show in his youth.
- FOCUS ‘08: The professional-vs-amateur distinction is eliminated; the March snowstorms of 2006 and 2007 trigger the move to an April 2008 time slot.
- FOCUS’ 09: The Judges’ Wall is introduced to exhibit the style of each judge’s work.
- FOCUS ‘11: The tradition begins of inviting the prior year’s Best of Show winning photographer to be on the judges’ panel.
- FOCUS ‘14: The exhibit returns to March due to recurrent scheduling conflicts in April.
- FOCUS ’17: Photographer Sandy Gennrich is awarded Best of Show for the second time, a singular accomplishment in Focus history; her first win was in Focus ‘14.
- FOCUS ’19: With this exhibit, total entries displayed reach 4,421 photographic works by area photographers. And a singular new accomplishment in Focus history is recorded: the top two awards – Best of Show and First Prize (Adult Division) – are each awarded to the (two discrete) works of one person, photographer Jacqueline Etling.
- FOCUS ’20: 199 photographs from 116 photographers (including 13 high school and 13 youth photographers), representing 21 cities and towns in CT and NY were submitted. It became the longest-running exhibit when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the library to temporarily close its doors to the public.
View the Focus exhibit poster retrospective
Below, Focus’19 Best of Show: “Country Road” by Jacqueline Etling
Below, Focus’18 Best of Show: “Glow” by Julie Frank
Below, Focus’17 Best of Show: “Stata Center” by Sandy Gennrich