214’s Classy Affair

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of conducting a colloquium at District 214’s Film & Photography Day. The annual event has matured nicely into a substantial affair: there was a keynote speaker and 10- count ’em, 10- workshops. Art students were transported from many, if not all, of the high schools in the district.

When Ms. Schrenk of Elk Grove (BHS Class of 1997) asked me what I would like beforehand, I suggested that people bring one of their most recent successful pictures, as well as a picture they admire from wherever else. She told me that attendees did not pick their day’s activities in advance, so that wouldn’t work. Oh, well; I could still address issues that affect artists over the long term, which was my intent anyway, because I need not reinforce the egos of those who skim the surface of picture-making, but rather I prefer to talk with people looking for a way to make a commitment to their work.

The title of my workshop was “Your Place in Photo History,” intentionally adult/stuffy, but what chance does it have when the adjacent one on the list was “I’m Going to Scare the Pants Off America”? In addition, the speaker standing next to me, Ms. Price of BG, dealt with (totally non-threatening) toy cameras! Still, enough people signed on with moi to make for nice cozy groups.

At lunch (EXcellent food, Smithers), we were treated to classic cartoons. The gentleman (eerily evocative of Jeff Albertson [look it up]) who presented the films of William Castle (the “scare the pants off” quote was from him) showed us the first-ever cartoon “Gertie the Dinosaur,” drawn entirely by hand; the not entirely PC “Steamboat Willie;” and two Daffy Duck pieces, one self-referential and one a Cold War allegory.

Ms. Schrenk and I exchanged work afterward, which made my day. That, and I noshed with a girl named Batavia.

If you’re pictured on this post, send me a postcard at BHS, 616 W. Main, Barrington 60010 and I’ll send you a print.

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