Dual Opening in January: Photography by Lorena Beniquez

LORENA BENIQUEZ // Abandoned Coal
Opening Friday, January 6th 2016 @ 6pm


When Lorena Beniquez started photographing Abandoned Coal, she didn’t know it would turn into a lifelong pursuit.  For over twenty years, the photographer has documented a fading history that defined not only northeastern Pennsylvania, but the United States as well.  It also happens to be a part of Beniquez’s family history.  Her great-grandfather, Stefano Pantano, was a coal miner who succumbed to black lung disease.

The Huber Breaker in Ashley, just outside Wilkes-Barre, was Beniquez’s first subject.  In 2014, the breaker was demolished just months after Beniquez last photographed it.

With the Huber gone, there is now only one breaker left in the commonwealth.  The St. Nicholas in Mahanoy City is currently being dismantled for its impending demolition.  Beniquez reached out to the breaker’s owner, Reading Anthracite Corporation, who granted her access to document the breaker’s demise. 

Images of the Huber and St. Nicholas collieries are the centerpiece of Gallery425’s exhibition of Beniquez’s work.  The photographer’s aim is to document historical relics that will soon disappear completely from Pennsylvania’s landscape.

The images exhibited at Gallery425 will also be included in an upcoming book, written by Beniquez.  Published by Arcadia Books, Lost Coal Country of Northeastern Pennsylvania is slated for national release in spring 2017.  In addition, the images will be exhibited at King’s College in September 2017, at their Anthracite Gallery in Wilkes-Barre, PA.



Cracked, by Lorena Beniquez, pictured above.


Dual Opening in January: Painting’s by Nik Olajuwon

NIK OLAJUWON // Dichotomy
Opening Friday, January 6th 2016 @ 6pm

Nik Olajuwon was very creative at a  young age. The things and situations he has seen, from California to Florida, and everything in between has shaped his view on this world. This includes being a victim of the Kids for Cash scandal, where a Wilkes-Barre judge was incarcerating kids on menial offenses. Olajuwon loved art class in elementary school, and there is where he said he felt the most free.

Olajuwon attended L.C.C.C. art school, as well as earned an art certification in Glen Mills. He furthered his education in art and knowledge of social issues by self-teaching, especially when dealing with his paintings subjects.

Olajuwon loves dichotomies in nature. He hasn’t pursued much in terms of schooling as he doesn’t want to have any influences in his style of painting that may stray him from what he really enjoys. Olajuwon is quoted as saying “if I can move someone in any way, my job has been completed”.

Olajuwon is influenced by numerous artists including Francisco Goya, Francis Bacon, Jean Michel Basquiat, Pablo Picasso, and George Condo. His goal when creating art is to open the eyes of the viewer, to make the feel something, whether it be sad, enlightened, angry, happy, or disturbed.

He has showed in galleries such as Art on Main, in Pittston, PA, as well as Barrel 135 in Williamsport, PA.




Dichotomy, by Nik Olajuwon, pictured above.