Jamestown Native Returns To Share ‘My Sweden’

Randal Piersons left his hometown of Jamestown for military service after graduating in 1964. He spent the following years traveling Europe, but he finally chose Sweden as his new home after falling in love with the country, its people and its unique character.

Piersons is now able to share with local residents scenes from life and nature in his adopted country through one of his life’s great passions: photography. Since July 11 his photos have been available for viewing in his show, “My Sweden,” on display in the 3rd On 3rd Gallery until Aug. 8.

While his homecoming initially began as a chance to catch up with old classmates at his 50-year reunion, he seized the opportunity to arrange an exhibit of his photography.

“It was friends of mine who live here who visited me in Sweden,” Piersons said. “They looked at some of my photos and said, ‘You’ve got to come to Jamestown and show your photos for the people in Jamestown.’ And I said, ‘OK, well I’ve got my 50th reunion coming up so I guess I can swing that.'”

Piersons has been taking photographs for almost his entire life, but began pursuing his passion as a professional photographer in his retirement. Since then his work has been featured in a number of shows in his native country.

The “My Sweden” show at the 3rd On 3rd Gallery displays the many aspects of Pierson’s work, while focusing specifically on the atmosphere of life in rural Sweden.

“There’s a lot of tranquillity and peace of mind in Swedish nature,” Piersons said. “One of the things that I appreciate a lot is that there is a lot of cleanliness and people are honest. I never feel threatened by anything.”

Piersons hopes that through his work he will be able to communicate the distinctive character of his adopted home to the people of Jamestown. He notes that the show may be especially enjoyable for the large population of Jamestown with Swedish ancestry.

“When I’ve taken pictures of houses it is more for the Swedish descendent living here,” Piersons said. “Hopefully they will see something that they will appreciate with the buildings that reminds them of their forefathers.”

Besides the photos of historic Swedish architecture on display at the show, Pierson’s main focus is on nature as it is found in the Swedish countryside where he lives.

“I like to share what I see in nature,” Piersons said. “I like to try to capture feelings. There is a lot of feelings on a foggy day, for example. Whenever it is particularly beautiful, or a little unusual.”

Piersons takes most of his photos on walks through the woods near his home south of Stockholm, often while pursuing his other major hobby, mushroom hunting. Photos of his findings are also on display in the show.

“When you find one, your whole body gets happy,” Piersons said. “And I take my camera with me always.”

In addition to his show in the 3rd On 3rd Gallery, Piersons also gave a showing of his work at the Scandinavian Folk Festival. To accompany his photography, he gave a lecture with the theme, “Why I moved to Sweden and stayed there.”

“I might mention that I never do any Photoshopping,” Piersons said. “Everything I have is what I get out of the camera. That’s why I call them ‘photographic moments.’ It doesn’t take more than a couple seconds sometimes, and you’ve lost the light.”

The 3rd On 3rd Gallery, located in the Reg Lenna building, has been a home to various art shows for over three years, having opened in January 2011. It is funded by the New York Council On The Arts, and has recently been granted funding for three more years. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.