Catch sight of 'Vanishing Minnesota'Award-winning photographer and author Doug Ohman will bring his images and stories about “Vanishing Minnesota” to Red Wing on March 22.
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
Award-winning photographer and author Doug Ohman will bring his images and stories about “Vanishing Minnesota” to Red Wing on March 22.
Ohman will give a free slide talk, show his photos and autograph copies of his books in the historic restored barn at the Anderson Center at Tower View. A public reception will start at 7 p.m., followed by the program at 7:30. The book and photo sale and signing will follow.
His aim is to take people on a visual journey around Minnesota, looking at historic buildings that are endangered.
Many of the images in his slide show and in the one-night-only exhibit have been featured in books that were part of the “Minnesota Byways” series.
Ohman has been working with the Minnesota Historical Society for seven years, providing the photographs for books on the state’s vanishing historic sites, including churches, barns, courthouses, schoolhouses, cabins and libraries.
“I do a lot of programs,” he said. “This one will be unique.”
That’s because it will incorporate in one show a variety of historic sites in all the categories — including buildings in southeastern Minnesota and the immediate area.
In the presentation, Anderson Center officials said, he also will share his own story. Ohman will relate “how he took his passion for history and love of photography and combined them to become one of the most successful and acclaimed photographers in the Upper Midwest,” they explained.
Ohman grew up in Anoka, Minn., and studied history and geography at the University of Minnesota. Before becoming a full-time photographer, he worked as director of operations at the Mall of America’s Camp Snoopy.
He now makes his life doing landscape and historical photography for books, calendars and magazines. He travels thousands of miles each year to document his subjects. In addition to speaking engagements, he also stops regularly at more than 30 art fairs and festivals around the state.
“We have such a rich history and heritage,” Ohman said, that he expects he’ll never run out of topics.
His newest project — one that was his idea and will take another year or more to complete — will be a book on cemeteries. As he will explain during his local presentation, it will offer a new perspective.
“The book will be lost stories of people in Minnesota that never have been told before,” Ohman said.
Famous people have been thoroughly documented by others. “I’m finding unique, everyday people stories — people who made an impact on their communities or (accomplished) something worth remembering,” he explained.
Getting cemetery photos and vignettes about individuals buried in them is far more complex than taking pictures of Minnesota’s 87 county courthouses, Ohman acknowledged.
“I walk a cemetery. I see a grave. I want to know more.”
Finding the lost Minnesotans is just the first step. “I have to dig to find their stories. In my opinion, they are as important” as the sports stars and politicians and other famous people whose stories fill other books.
As he has planned it, the book will have one unique story for each year that Minnesota has been a state, he said.
“It’s really a history lesson of Minnesota,” Ohman said, because it will tell stories about everyday Minnesotans, how they lived and struggled, succeeded and failed. At the same time, he added, the book also will capture the architecture and the beauty of the cemeteries which he views as “gardens of memories.”
Following the presentation, people will be able to purchase copies of his books and his photographic artwork — both matted and framed prints and photos on canvas — depicting historic landscapes and sites in the area.
The evening with Ohman, free and open to the public, is presented by the Anderson Center, the Goodhue County History Center, the Red Wing Photography Club and the Red Wing Arts Association.
“Vanishing Minnesota” is made possible in part through funding from the Jones Family Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Minnesota Cultural Heritage and Legacy Fund, Minnesota State Arts Board, Target Foundation and Xcel Energy.
For more information, contact the Anderson Center at 651-388-2009.
If you go …
Who: Doug Ohman
What: Slide talk and exhibit
When: 7/7:30 p.m. March 22
Where: Anderson Center historic barn
More info: 651-388-2009 or www.andersoncenter.org