Back in the days when I was working at The Missourian, I’d cover some night event, maybe a meeting or sporting event, then I’d go to my home basement darkroom to process the film and print the photos. Since I’d rather stay up late than get up early, I’d drive the pictures over to the office that night.
If I wasn’t sleepy, I’d sit in the office doing my homework or listening to one of the three police, fire and highway patrol radios mounted on a column in the newsroom. Every hour, I’d jump when the West Union clock on the wall reset itself to the absolutely correct time with a jarring CLUNK!.
If I got bored doing that, I’d hop in the car and cruise the back streets and alleys, listening to police calls through a Tompkins Tunaverter, a little gray box that converted the car’s AM radio into a VHF FM monitor. Cape’s a town that goes to sleep early, so it was like it belonged to me.
I love biking after dark
To this day, I love riding my bike after dark. In the early evening, you can nod and speak to folks walking their dogs or pushing baby strollers. You can smell what’s cooking for dinner. If there is a flickering light coming from a dark room, you know they are watching TV, because a computer screen emits a steady glow.
From behind, I’m lit up like a Christmas tree; in front, there’s a generator-powered headlight cutting through the blackness. If I look down, I can see in the backsplatter of the light my sweat-glowing legs pistoning up and down, driving the chain with a snicccck, sniccck, sniccck sound.
Like Robert Frost, I, too, have been acquainted with the night.
This is one of my images that will be displayed at the Cape Girardeau County History Center in Jackson after Homecomers and until about the end of the year. The theme of the show will be Coming of Age in a Small Midwestern Town between 1963 and 1970ish. Click on the photo to make it larger.
I’ve seen two sunrises this week. I pulled two all-nighters editing pictures and sending them off to be printed. The sunrises were spectacularly reddish, or, that might have just been what they looked like through my bloodshot eyes.
What brought about this horrible flashback to my high school and college days? The Cape County History Center in Jackson is going to exhibit pictures from my coming of age years. I underestimated how long it was going to take to get the pictures done because they had already been scanned.
What I had forgotten
What I had forgotten was that I really didn’t know what I was doing when I first started digitizing the film. After doing the digital darkroom work and getting rid of all the flaws, I should have saved them as a Photoshop file. Instead, I output them for the web. That’s great if you are only going to look at it on a computer screen, but the image falls apart if you want to enlarge it.
That meant that I had to go back to the original scan and touch up 100 to 1000 scratches, dust spots and flaws per picture. Doing that once is a pain. Doing it a second time is agonizingly, boringly frustrating.
Anyway, Carla Jordan and I are going to be hanging the show Friday afternoon and night. With any kind of luck, it’ll be ready for folks to see Saturday afternoon. More info to come.
That’s not a sunrise
This isn’t a sunrise, by the way. I had to go to Staples to pick up some ink for my printer Wednesday evening. When I walked out of the store, I was blown away by the way Man and Mother Nature were having a color competition.
The Cape Girardeau County History Center in Jackson was hanging a new exhibit Friday afternoon – A Celebration of the Artwork of Gary R. Lucy.
Upon arrival, I watched a guy (who turned out to be Gary Lucy) mesmerize a gaggle of fifth graders from Natalie Jones’ class at Immaculate Conception School. He was talking about art, how he got started (he thought he was going to be a CPA) and what it was like to be an artist.
The kids ate it up.
Kids asked good questions
When he was asked, “Are you always inspired?” he gave them an honest answer:
“No, no. People always ask ‘are you inspired?’ I’m in the mood to do this about ten percent of the time. [Laughter] The other 90 percent is ‘I need to DO this.’ Do you see what I’m saying? If I waited until I was in the mood or inspired, I wouldn’t get anything done. Artists are dreamers. Artists love to sit back and say, ‘Yo, man, I’m going to do this.’ Or ‘Man, I’m going to do that.’ And they sit there and dream about all the stuff they’re going to do, but they don’t ever do it because they don’t have the self discipline to stay the course.”
That led into a good discussion with the students about what self discipline is.
The Oscar Bird
At the end of his presentation, he whipped out a sketch board and drew his “Oscar Bird,” also known as The Good Luck Bird. He said it you are in need of luck, walk up and rub the bird’s nose. Ms. Jones said she would hang Oscar in her classroom.
Every kid who walked by the Oscar Bird gave its beak a quick rub.
Best conversation in a long time
After the fifth graders left, and while Gary’s wife Sandy and the museum folks were driving nails, hanging prints and adjusting lights, he an I sat at a table and had one of the most wide-ranging and enjoyable conversations I’ve had in a long time.
We shared our common love of the Mississippi’s history and lore. We talked about how photographers and artists see and use light; how he injects so much realism into his work, and how he maintains his houseboat.
I recognized some of the landmarks in his paintings: Eads Bridge under construction, Tower Rock, Island 10 off New Madrid…
His use of light is incredible. He was able to paint an accurate image of Tower Rock at night by parking his mobile studio, a houseboat, in the river on just the right night. I’ve tried several times to shoot the full moon at The Rock, but I guess I’m going to have to requisition a boat to do it right.
Meet Gary yourself
If you enjoy good artwork, history and good conversation, I suggest you attend the opening of Gary’s show Saturday, February 20, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The History Center is located in the Andrew Jackson Building across from the courthouse.
Rather than doing a lot of typing, I’ll point you to Gary’s biography on his website. Oh, by the way, he told the kids the Rest of the Story behind the Corvette that he mentions in his bio. I’ll have you ask him about it.
Gallery of the hanging
Hmmm, that sounds a little awkward when I see it in print, but I’ll leave it. Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.