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Art Exhibit: "Jobs from A to Z"

Art Exhibit: "Jobs from A to Z" In-Person

The exhibit is a collaborative effort between artist photographer Bill Franz and his father-in-law, Wally Willaman, age 101, that mingles photography and digital art together to form engaging pieces representing 26 different jobs, each one beginning with a letter of the alphabet.  Franz describes how "Jobs from A to Z" came about.

My father-in-law's memory has been gradually fading, which makes our visits together more difficult. I decided to ask my father-in-law to help me with an art series called Jobs from A to Z. We'd avoid discussions of the past by working together on a project in the present.

Each of the 26 pieces starts with my photo of a worker. Next I blend in 5 to 10 other photos to make a rough draft of a digital collage. Then I review the rough draft with Wally before adjusting colors and adding my own marks to make the finished piece.

When I asked Wally for comments on the rough draft of the first piece (A is for Accordionist) he was hesitant, but eventually he started to enjoy the project. We discussed which colors were good together and which colors we didn't like. We talked about whether the letter F should be for a Farmer or a Fire Eater or a Florist. Sometimes I'd prepare two different rough drafts and we'd put a box of donuts on a table in the hall. As the nursing home residents and staff came by we'd ask them to vote on which rough draft was best. We had fun every time we got together.

Working with Wally lead me to make better art. Many of his ideas couldn't be implemented because he doesn't understand the limitations of the technology and of my own abilities. I couldn't, for example, put a bigger smile on a person or change his arm position. But some of Wally's ideas were great and have been incorporated into the final pieces.

But the biggest benefit of working with Wally wasn't his ideas, it was two parts of the process itself. First, I found that talking about a rough draft with Wally helped me decide how to proceed. Second, Wally liked to review all of the finished pieces in our notebook every time we got together. That constant review of "finished" work was something I'd never done before, and it lead me to make numerous small improvements.

After six months of working together we finished the series with "Z is for Zookeeper." The 26 pieces, each signed by Wally and by me, were shown at the Dayton Metro Library last fall. This March they will be shown in a gallery at the University of Michigan Hospital.

When I told Wally that the galleries wanted me to write something about how we worked together on this project. He said "Tell them that even when people are my age you can still squeeze some work out of them."  I hope people have as much fun viewing our art we did making it.

Information about Franz and his work can be found by visiting billfranz.smugmug.com

Saturday, July 20, 2024 Show more dates
All Day Event
Time Zone:
Eastern Time - US & Canada (change)
Library Lobby
Woodbourne Library
  All Ages     Seniors  


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