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Tom Kretsch's Photos Distill Local Color

Professionally, Westporter Tom Kretsch's main course for thirty-six years, was teaching phys ed at Norwalk's Columbus Magnet School. Though photography was a lifelong pursuit for him, workwise it was a side dish that included an annual slide show celebrating school life. Now, with his business Peaceful Places ,only photography is on his menu.  And beginning April 3, The Good News Cafe , in Woodbury, exhibits his latest picture essay, “On the Road, People, Places and Things,” which showcases his colorful photographs of street life in small, central American communities, especially Mexico and Nicaragua. Because of Tom's involvement with the non-profit Norwalk/Nagarote Sister City Project , he has travelled to this area frequently and feels an affinity that connects him to its remarkable energy.  “There is a unique pulse of life in this part of the world," he says. "There is much poverty and need but I marvel at the resilience of people and what they overcome to succeed." The Sister City Project, begun in 1986, was created to address this need. After Haiti, Nicaragua is the second most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere. As a director, Tom has helped decide which of the  development projects in Nagarote, a city of 36,000, the non-profit should sponsor. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, The Sister City Project has focussed on helping youth, housing, reforestation, scholarships, preschool, and micro loans, all self-sustaining efforts.

Tom's award-winning photographs also capture places closer to home. These have included Cape Cod, Nantucket and other locales in New England. Last year, his work won prizes at the Wilton Arts Council Photography Show and at the Mystic Art Show . An opening reception for “On the Road, People, Places and Things,” takes place from 3-5 p.m. April 3 at Good News Cafe. The exhibit runs until May 30.

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