The Calumet Region: An American Place


VALPARAISO, Ind. – Valparaiso University’s Brauer Museum of Art presents “The Calumet Region: An American Place,” a new book featuring black and white photographs of Northwest Indiana’s industrial and residential landscape through the lens of photographer Gary Cialdella.

A professional architectural photographer, established fine artist, educator and historian, Cialdella says he found himself drawn back to the area where he grew up for a 20-year photographic exploration that resulted in hundreds of images. Nearly 100 of those images appear in the new book prepared by Brauer Museum, reflecting the artist’s sensitive, sustained vision and the changes the region has experienced through economic shifts and the general effects of time.

“Cialdella’s Calumet pictures thoroughly examine an area of the United States that is often overlooked, but is vitally important to the country’s history,” said Gregg Hertzlieb, editor of the book and director/curator of Valpo’s Brauer Museum of Art ( “Steel mills, tank farms and refineries coexist with neighborhood houses in the artist’s beautifully composed pieces, which please the eye with their full tonal range and crisp focus.”

Hertzlieb, also a native of Northwest Indiana, called Cialdella’s work the definitive photographic treatment of the region’s landscape, a belief that led to the making of “The Calumet Region: An American Place.”

In the book, Cialdella provides descriptions and explanations of his working methods, sources of inspiration and life experiences to add even greater richness to his images.

Dr. John Ruff, a poet and associate professor of English at Valpo, also reflects on Cialdella’s photographs in the new book and the ways they capture the spirit of a place that has intrigued him during the years he has lived in Northwest Indiana.

“Cialdella’s photographs of the Calumet region offer an unforgettable portrait of a place that impresses with its strength and that moves us with the poignancy of its struggle,” Hertzlieb said.

Cialdella was born in Chicago and raised in nearby Blue Island, Ill. He earned his master’s degree in photography from the University of Notre Dame and holds a master’s degree in history from Western Michigan University, and he has taught photography and photographic history at both universities. His work is represented in the Museum of Contemporary Photography’s archive of Midwest photographers and is included in many corporate and private collections including the LaSalle Bank Photography Collection, Pfizer Corporation Collection, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Brauer Museum of Art. More information about the artist can be found at his Web site

Cialdella will host a book signing Oct. 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Border’s in Merrillville. For more information or directions to the event, call (219) 795-1925.

Valpo’s Brauer Museum of Art will host a gallery talk with Cialdella, followed by a book signing, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. For more information, call the museum at (219) 464-5365.

“The Calumet Region: An American Place” is available for purchase at Valpo ArtsMedia (, the Valparaiso University Bookstore, and numerous international book sellers.

More information about Brauer Museum’s 2009-2010 season, including a complete list of exhibition-related events, is available online at Brauer Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday during the academic year. Admission to the museum and all events is free. Group tours may be arranged by calling (219) 465-7926.