By Sally Deering
Good n’ Plenty, Pixy Stix, Zots, Necco Wafers – these are just some of the candies kids snacked on back in the day and that still evoke childhood memories in adults of all ages. People seem to connect through the shared experience of reminiscing about candy; everyone knows someone who can wax poetic about wax lips.
Double Bubble Bubble Gum, Bon-o-mo Turkish Taffy, Lemonheads, Dots, Pop Rocks, Candy Buttons – the candy list is endless – and photographer Beth Achenbach of Jersey City believes her photographs of candy will help people make happy connections at her upcoming exhibit NOSTALGIA at the Mary Benson Gallery in Jersey City.
“When you start talking to people about candy, it brings you back to that simple time to when you were a kid,” Achenbach says. “(Back then) the hardest decision was having a dollar and which candy did you want to buy with it. The show will bring you back to those childlike feelings. The few photos I’ve posted online have already gotten real responses from people.”
One part of the exhibit will feature people blowing bubble gum bubbles.
“Popping in some bubble gum and blowing a bubble loosens you up a little,” Achenbach says.
Achenbach remembers middle school and how bubble gum was “the commodity”. She says: “You couldn’t chew gum in class, so kids would be selling pieces of gum for a quarter. That was our thing in middle school.”
Achenbach first got into photography working at a one-hour photo-processing lab in Chicago in the 1990s. One part of her job was processing film and printing photos; the other was selling cameras.
“They would let us take cameras home and play with them so we could sell them better,” Achenbach says, “and that’s when I started liking photography.”
Achenbach’s sister passed along her manual Pentax to Achenbach who started taking pictures all the time, she says on her website achenbachart.com. Since then she has experimented with different equipment, subjects, mediums and presentations which, she says, have all been a great learning experience. She now manages a photo lab in New York City.
“I’ve seen thousands and thousands of photos over the years and you develop an eye for what you like and don’t like,” Achenbach says. “I started experimenting, and I still try new things. I never showed any of my work until I moved to Jersey City in 2002. I moved here a couple of days before the Jersey City Artists’ Studio Tour. I showed my work that weekend and I’ve been in it every year since.”
For the exhibit at the Mary Benson Gallery. Achenbach went online to order some old time candy. She hopes her photos will inspire adults not to act their age.
“It’s important to remember what you were like as a kid,” Achenbach says. “I think it’s good to tap into that. I find I can be really forgetful, but when something conjures up a memory, when someone posts an old photo on Facebook, then I start remembering things. That’s what the candy does and the bubble gum. They ignite some streams of thought that take us a little bit somewhere else and yet are still a part of us.”
If you go:
Fri, Sat, Sun, Dec 5, 6, 7
NOSTALGIA, photos by Beth Achenbach
Mary Benson Gallery
369 Third Street
Fri, 5 to 10 pm;
Sat, 3-6 pm; Event Reception: Sat, 6-10
Sun, Noon to 5 pm