North Gallery: Kurt’s original snapshots of images from the Iowa State Fair will be on display, as will his book of State Fair images.
South Gallery: Signed lithographs and original regional artists from Kurt’s personal collection will be on display in the South Gallery. Items on display will include:
All of this began rather unceremoniously in the early 1970s when a fellow student (John Meyer) at Wartburg College asked me if I’d be interested in becoming a photographer for Wartburg’s Office of Public Information, as well as for the college newspaper, yearbook, and any department on campus in need of a photographer. John taught me camera basics, as well as how to develop and print photos. In those days we only shot in black and white, something I continue to this day. In addition to working for Wartburg I began to shoot more artsy, less-journalistic photos and was fortunate to have work published in publications like the Des Moines Register Sunday Magazine. I suppose it was during that time that I realized photography was an excellent medium for telling stories, both as stand-alone photos and as photos accompanying written work. I am best known for my written work.
My first paid column was in 1970 when I was in high school, a column that appeared in the Chicago Tribune. For more than 30 years my columns, often accompanied by my photos, have appeared regularly in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Baltimore Sun, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Houston Chronicle, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Iowan Magazine, Des Moines Register, Cedar Rapids Gazette, Quad-City Times, and Dubuque Telegraph Herald, and others. In 2023 the Telegraph Herald will be publishing a 60-page ‘magazine’ of my columns and photos. All proceeds will benefit the Fund for Local Journalism. My photos alone have also been published in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and many other publications.
What I do is classic “street photography,” a form of art practiced for a long time by such luminaries as Robert Frank, Vivian Maier, Bruce Davison, and many others, all of whom have influenced my work. As a fan of the Iowa State Fair I proposed an idea for a photo book to the good folks at the University of Iowa Press and, very quickly, they responded favorably. They incorporated all of my suggestions. i.e. black & white photos, format, size, number of essays. The only thing I was not allowed to choose? The cover photo! They loved the goat. The CEO/Manager of the fair, Jeremy Parsons recently told me that “The Iowa State Fair” is a “wonderful book – incredible writing and stunning photos.”
That sort of sentiment is why I’d like to make the photos available to as many in Iowa as possible. The fair is an important part of the history of the state and I believe I did a relatively decent job of bringing some of that history to life, on a very personal level, not just for me but for anyone who loves the fair. It’s a collection of snapshots that reveal oft-lost cultural and spiritual truths here in the heartland. In the end, a state fair is about people, people who participate and people who visit, and I hope my photos appeal to both groups. It’s a ‘come with me, take my hand, let’s walk around and see what we can see’ approach to the art of photography.