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Published: Friday, 5/16/2003

Beauty of area captured

Hewen Slak has come a very long way in a very short time.

She started “messing around” with a digital camera less than a year ago, and her work is now displayed for sale at Toledo Museum of Art stores and SeaGate Gallery.

Her subjects are minimalist and natural, usually taken at dawn's early light: a line of trees or power line pylons, their shadows stretching long, cattails at Ottawa Park, or a flash of pink blossoms in a cold winter wood.

At their worst, they're sweet greeting-card illustrations a la Thomas Kinkade. At their best, like Sycamores and Frozen Lotus, they're reminiscent of Wyeth or Hiroshige.

“I wanted to capture the nature of Toledo. I find beauty here around every corner,” she said. “I thought it would be good to help the people who live here appreciate how pretty their city is.”

On their own, her photographs are lovely landscapes and details, just a little enhanced through the magic of digital manipulation. Most were taken locally, and have the value-added enjoyment of familiar sights: Ottawa Park, the Lost Peninsula area of Lake Erie, Walbridge Park, and the long ponds along Summit Street near the Michigan border. More exotic tastes will respond to her South Pacific series of landscapes taken in Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea.

Ms. Slak is a native of Taiwan, married to Dr. Stefan Slak, an emeritus psychology professor at the University of Toledo. Residents of Toledo for 25 years, they have traveled to more than 60 countries. Ms. Slak is active in the local Chinese community and church, and she is a computer scientist at Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich..

The photographer's Web gallery can be viewed online at www.pbase.com/hslak.

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