By Steve Pecar. Published April 28, 2022 at 2:48 pm.
Fotis of Bazinas Furs has been operating in Port Credit for 40 years. The photo is part of “The Establishment” exhibit that continues through the end of May. Photo by Stephen Uhraney
“Legacy means something to Stephen Uhraney.
The longtime Mississauga photographer has made a career out of capturing images of our city. The bricks and mortar, landscapes and landmarks are all subjects that he has visited often, and even though many sites can be easily recognizable, Uhraney’s work provides a perspective uniquely his own.
But for all the subject matter he has seen through his camera lens, nothing captivates him more than the people he encounters on a regular basis.
And while he has mounted several exhibitions over the years, his latest show, which opens today (April 28) and runs through the end of May, provides the most intimate portraits of those who have withstood the test of time as business leaders in the city’s oldest community.
Entitled The Establishment, the exhibit showcases entrepreneurs who have operated in Port Credit for more than 20 years.
“It’s the people who have made Port Credit what it is, and they are still doing it,” explains Uhraney. “Their longevity and commitment to the community means something and I wanted to convey that through photos.”
Uhraney said the project was “self assigned,” something he needed to do during the pandemic when many of these businesses were shuttered and he himself saw much of his freelance work dry up.
“So, I went out and did environmental portraits of these people, the owners of their businesses in their business, in a setting that captures who they are,” he says.
The project took about 18 months to complete as he spent hours walking Lakeshore Rd. visiting the shop owners when the stores were open, often using his powers of persuasion to sell them on the project.
At first, he was satisfied just displaying the work on his social media sites.
However, the positive reaction and encouragement from his many followers led him to collecting the work in one spot–the old St. Lawrence Starch building on the southeast corner of Hurontario St. and Lakeshore Rd.
Uhraney says the show is sponsored by the Port Credit Community Foundation, which has supplied a grant to mount the exhibit, and Frank Giannone, of the Fram Building Group, who has provided the space.
Of the 41 works/businesses that fit the 20-year profile, 26 are featured in large-format colour prints that in the gallery setting serve as a microcosm of Port Credit and the people who make it tick.
A longtime resident of the lakefront community himself, Uhraney says he thought he knew the back story for many of these businesses, but was surprised at what he learned during the time spent with his subjects.
“Some of these businesses have been around for 50 years,” he says. “Luigi Stornelli of Luigi’s Custom Tailors has been around for 62 years in Port Credit. That’s a long time. He has seen this community grow and change and he has endless tales to tell. I think I heard them all.”
The Establishment runs through May 31 at the St. Lawrence Starch building, 141 Lakeshore Rd. E. The artist will be in attendance at the opening on April 28 from 7 to 9:30 p.m.“