Meet the Artists : Lawrence Libby & Paul Sihvonen-Binder

January 22, 2016
Contact: Tamar Russell Brown, Gallery Sitka — 978.425.6290

Two “Straight Shooting” Local Photographers to Exhibit at The Bull Run in Shirley

SHIRLEY, Mass. — Some photographers excel at capturing the ordinary moments of our lives, calling attention to the beauty that’s all around us. Two accomplished Massachusetts photographers, Lawrence Libby and Paul Sihvonen-Binder, are cases in point.

Lawrence Libby describes his early life as that of an “army brat” who was fortunate to be able to take in all the great museums of Europe when he was just a youngster. Entirely self-taught, Larry started taking pictures at an early age, and by 19 he had appropriated a bathroom in his parents’ home to use as a darkroom.

The artist claims his major influences to be 20th-century American Realist, Modernist, and Regionalist painters such as Grant Wood, Georgia O’Keeffe and Winslow Homer, along with great photographers such as Ansel Adams, Edward Steichen and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Even so, his more fundamental influences go a little further back — notably to the Renaissance and Gothic masters whose work he saw as a child, and which “pre-date photography by many centuries.”

Larry has worked recently with New Vue Communities (, a non-profit organization working on issues of affordable housing and community organizing in and around Fitchburg. On the organization’s website, viewers will find an especially remarkable photo of the sky over Fitchburg, with the sun sending dramatic shafts of light around the clouds, among other startling pictures.

The artist likes to characterize his black & white photos as “dreamscapes.” He is seeking to convey moods, feelings. When deciding whether to photograph in black & white or in color, he tries “to let that decision serve the picture.”

Paul Sihvonen-Binder likes to encourage everyone to “notice the usual.” His goal is “to capture the things people might miss in the beauty they’re surrounded by.” His nature photography, much of which documents the beauty of the Pioneer Valley in Western Mass, seeks out stark, unexpected patterns in fairly mundane materials. One of his recent photos, “Wet,” captures a branch in the water that so clearly marks itself out in the almost mirror-like surface that it seems as if it were drawn with pen and ink. Pictures such as “Head On” show us the lonely splendor of little creatures who might be lost to us if Mr. Sihvonen-Binder were not there to capture the moment.

“I’m a software support specialist at the Department of Computer Science at U. Mass., Amherst,” says Paul. “I take photos on my way to work and on my way home, in the morning and in the evening. I do it to retain my sanity.” The artist finds that taking pictures helps him see himself in a healthy perspective. The beauty he sees “shows you your place in the world — that you’re not really that significant.” This perspective seems to be a welcome corrective to the hurly-burly of modern life. Paul finds himself drawn more and more to the small details, in addition to the grand vistas of the many sprawling landscapes he has photographed.

“I don’t Photoshop, I don’t play with colors,” the artist says. “I have no formal art training.” Like Mr. Libby, he is completely self-taught. But concerning influences of his art, he cites his great-grandfather, Paul Anderson, who was active as a photographer in the first half of the last century and who displayed remarkable attention to detail in his pictures.

The artists will show these exciting images to the public at The Bull Run, 215 Great Road in Shirley, Mass., on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 5 – 7 p.m. Visit — as well as and — for more information about the artistry of Lawrence Libby and Paul Sihvonen-Binder.


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