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"Guitar' strikes a pose

(ran North, South editions)

A nude woman. A rare guitar. A camera.

That's all it takes for photographer Emanuel Pontoriero to create art.

"To me, a guitar is a functional work of art," Pontoriero told Marj Golub, the executive director of the Pasco Arts Center, where more than two dozen of his photographs of guitars will be exhibited through Feb. 26. Pontoriero doesn't play the guitar, but he has always loved guitar music and the appearance of the instrument.

As he was growing up in New Jersey in the 1960s and '70s, he often looked at magazine photos of guitars. But the images "looked like mug shots to me," he said.

Once he began photographing guitars, he was determined to make each instrument appear as individual as the people who played or posed with them.

For some of his photos, Pontoriero borrows rare guitars, such as an arch-top one made by the late John D'Angelico. For others, he uses mass-produced ones made by Gibson. It's the shape, style and wood that matter.

He often takes an entire day to take three or four photographs, carefully arranging his subjects under artificial light in a studio. The results are moody images with the feel of a Rembrandt painting.

"He blends the shape of the guitar with the female figure," Ms. Golub said. The lighting and angles do the rest.

Pontoriero was born in southern Italy in 1958 and moved to New Jersey at age 7. He moved to Florida in 1995, where he is a professional photographer in New Port Richey.

He will give three presentations at the arts center: the 5 to 7 p.m. reception today, and at 1 p.m. Jan. 29 and Feb. 18.

Today's event will have music by new age musician Dave Eichenberger, refreshments and Pontoriero's sound and slide show about his subject matter, photo techniques and photo reproduction.

Several of the prints are on regular Kodak paper, unframed and mounted on archival board ($99 for existing prints; $149 for special orders).

Most are costly Cibachrome prints made on a stable tri-acetate polyester base that doesn't fade, discolor or break down for a very long time. Those go for $6,000 and have been professionally matted and framed.

The Cibachrome process was developed in Switzerland in the 1960s and imbeds pure color dyes into the paper instead of onto the paper, as with regular printing.

The difference in appearance has been compared to regular analog vs. high definition television pictures.

For now, Pontoriero looks at his artistic photography as a hobby. In the future, he would like to put the images into a coffee table book.

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