About this project
My life in photography started officially at age twelve, where I learned darkroom technique and how to handle a professional camera. From that age, I began photographing the city where I had learned the craft, and Dayton, Ohio was that city. Beginning in 1974, I used my father's Leica, then a Rolleiflex camera (in addition to other equipment) to slowly begin to document a city where "urban renewalism" had begun to threaten the very heart and soul of the city. I seemed to have an impending sense of urgency to photograph certain things, places, even people -- all of which I knew might soon disappear, be forgotten or ignored. This initial concern about the changes I was observing were quickly transmogrified into a great focus on preservation and memory, not just in Dayton, anywhere I happened to be.
I left Dayton for college in 1980, studied photography, and continued to visit Dayton more as an outsider - no longer having the time to document and capture imagery with the same firmament as before. The negatives I had processed were stored somewhere at home, but I wasn't finding them. I moved onto New York in 1985 and became involved in my career as a musician in the performing arts - memories of Dayton and my work there now taking a back seat to my survival and ultimate success in New York.
In 2009 I returned to Ohio for six weeks to tend to my ailing father. After his death, I found the carefully-preserved collection of film negatives I had left in his apartment years earlier, upon entering college. It was then that I bought a professional scanner and began a return journey to Dayton through my old pictures.
The result of my photographic journeys into Downtown Dayton in the 1970s revealed a surprisingly vivid vision of the city at a changeable time in its history. I realized I no longer possessed photographs of a city I still knew but rather, now, an archive of memories - now decades in the past. I began sharing lower-resolution images from my collection on an Ohio discussion group and was "discovered" by a Dayton historian and author who asked me if I might be willing to supplement a Facebook page he was launching, devoted to Dayton history.
The response to my photographic contributions and commentary apparently sparked tremendous enthusiasm within that Facebook page, which now enjoys well over 6,000 followers. After numerous requests to publish my photographs in a coffee table book, I decided to embark on something a little quicker in the form of a collage which would include many of the works I had been sharing. That project became kind of an emotional memory journey; The design seemed to form itself. The resulting graphic became poster-size, and I decided that this work would be suitable for commercial printing.
I did post the initial work at DeviantArt.com, where I had over a thousand works already on display. DeviantArt produced a beautiful print of the poster for me, but the economics of such art prints are not generally sell-able in shops and to most individuals, owing to cost and materials. I needed to publish the work and make it a potential sale item to shops, museums - wherever it needed to be exposed. It would promote my work, but I would promote Dayton, within a nice symbiosis. I'm grateful even to be able to put something like this together.
The cost of this project is based on estimates from local printers who use high-volume, high quality presses. This will not be laser or ink-jet, but a professionally-printed poster on 80-lb paper. I will obtain mailers for sending, and I will sign copies of the work in either silver/gold art pen or black (Sharpie).
It will be a beautiful poster. Those who have seen the initial limited version have raved about it.
Risks and challenges
The risk is mainly in the physical realm - getting the product to where it belongs. I have full confidence that my printer will be able to create a good poster for me. The challenge is in having a thousand or more copies and getting those copies sold and distributed. Also - I must prepare some posters for signing, and they must be signed properly.
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The challenge, from the start, is to get the word out and to clearly state why this is not only a worthy project, but a unique one. Commercial artists have long been enlisted to depict Dayton with kind of a "Chamber of Commerce" view. This is a personal view which, I think, imbues the city with a kind of dignity and strength which real adherents of the city really do think about, long for, celebrate, or point out.
I believe this view will help Dayton - a city and region hit very hard by economic realities, achieve its own goal of rebirth - the stirrings of which are already clearly in evidence.
I am a born communicator. I have applied this to everything I have done - in music, in business, in art. I have a strong passion for the subject matter, and I am dogged in making a strong case, as a leader of ideas, for having the courage to dream big, dream first-rate, dream with the most imagination one can enlist. Never back down on what is possible!
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