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Balentine’s day at library: Pastor’s camera puts Lynn scenes on display

This article was published 11 months ago.

Pete Balentine rests his hand on a bookshelf in the Reading Room at the Lynn Public Library where his photo exhibition titled Home Markets is on display until August 19. (JAKOB MENENDEZ)

LYNN — With his newest installation at the Lynn Public Library, “Home Markets,” photographer and Washington Street Baptist Church pastor Peter Balentine sets out to document culture and community across the city with his camera.

Walking through the first floor atrium of the library, one can see a series of 15 framed photographs. Each one is an image of what some would call a unique Lynn convenience store, others would call a home, or what Balentine calls a piece of a community. 

Balentine said that when he moved to Lynn from Newburyport in 2020, he was fascinated by the prevalence of storefronts below people’s houses. Balentine was taking classes at the Griffin Museum of Photography when he decided to document some of Lynn’s homefront shops.

“I just started to notice these mom and pop markets, and so many of them were in homes,” Balentine said. “The variety, and how do they differ in terms of typology? Colors, construction, but also ethnicity and names.”

Balentine said that his upbringing in Westerly, R.I., along with a general interest in cultural diversity, sparked his fascination with home stores. 

“It was a neat way to learn about the different cultures and ethnicities in Lynn, just through these home markets,” he said. “It resonates with growing up having these mom-and-pop shops where I grew up, and I also love travel, so for me, what I love most about the city of Lynn is the diversity groups here.”

Of all the home markets and convenience stores Balentine photographed, he singled out “La Familia Market” at 602 Summer St. as his favorite shot.

“The signature shot is called ‘La Familia Market.’ You can see, it’s a very colorful orange, it’s a Central American market, but then there’s a set of stairs coming up from behind it and the door is right there. That symbolizes to me the idea of a home market, this market that’s in a home and just embedded in a neighborhood,” Balentine said.

In the Galleries at LynnArts’ Blue Exhibit hangs Balentine’s photos from his trip to Ukraine in 2004. Balentine said he initially went as a Bible College teacher, but he brought his film camera with him. When the war broke out earlier this year, Balentine had his negatives professionally scanned. 

“I documented the people, and especially the spiritual heritage of Ukraine. That series, I think, just shows the country’s spiritual strength,” Balentine said.

Currently, Balentine is five months into a multi-year project in which he wants to travel the region photographing churches, preachers, and people. He said he’s shooting on a grant from the Louisville Institute.

“I’m amazed by the number of churches in Lynn. The stereotype, coming from Newburyport, was ‘Lynn, Lynn, city of sin.’ You know, crime, drugs, gangs, that kind of stuff. But moving here, I realize that stereotype is really not fair for the city,” Balentine said. “There are a lot of churches in the city, and it’s the immigrants who largely drive that. The history of the church in America is the history of immigrants.”

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at

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