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Hunterdon Art Museum exhibition focuses on photography of Walter Chandoha


The Hunterdon Art Museum focuses on the freelance photography of Walter Chandoha in a solo exhibition opening this fall.

The exhibition, “Walter Chandoha: A Lifetime of Photography,” showcases his cat photography – taken long before the days of Instagram – his vibrant still lifes of vegetables and fruits, and his New York City candid images of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

A reception celebrating the show’s opening will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Sept. 23. The museum will host a gallery talk with Chandoha at 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 7. Everyone is welcome at both events. The exhibition runs until Jan. 6.

In a storied career spanning seven decades, Chandoha is best-known for capturing the personalities of thousands of cats and dogs, and he became the go-to person whenever a Madison Avenue advertising director needed the perfect eye-catching pet photo.

Chandoha’s photos have appeared in newspapers, magazines and trade journals around the world. He has authored numerous books, and at one time you could walk down the pet food aisle of any grocery store and more than half the cat and dog photos on the packaging were taken by Chandoha.

And it all began with a gray-haired kitten Chandoha found shivering in a snowy alleyway in New York. He slipped the feline into his Army mackinaw and carried him home to Queens for a meal, and as a present for his wife, Maria, who was pregnant with their first child.

Around 11 o’clock that night, the kitten charged around each room in the apartment like a demon possessed. “That cat is loco!” Maria exclaimed. The name stuck.

Chandoha credits Maria, who passed away in 1992, as the key to his success working with animals. His daughter, Chiara, has taken over the role as his assistant, and is a talented freelance photographer and a stringer for the Bucks County Herald.

Just days before the exhibition’s opening, Aperture is re-releasing Chandoha’s book, “Walter Chandoha: The Cat Photographer.” It will be available for purchase at the museum.

HAM is giving a free signed poster of Chandoha’s famous photo of five kittens to the first 40 new or renewed museum members during the run of this exhibition.

The museum is at 7 Lower Center St. in Clinton, N.J. Visit or call 908-735-8415. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and suggested admission is $5.