The picture tells the story: Newspaper's photos on display at arts council

Friday, December 4, 2009
Historian Joel Rhodes sat watching the Delta Queen early Tuesday, August 12, 2008, at the Cape Girardeau riverfront. The Delta Queen made what could be one of its last stops in Cape Girardeau during the week. (Kit Doyle)

The daily newspaper serves as a slice of life. It paints a picture of daily life, but rarely is it preserved by individuals for future generations to see.

The December art exhibition in the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri will put decades of Southeast Missourian images in a central location to provide patrons the chance to see important events and impressions of life in Southeast Missouri over the years.

"It was an opportunity to get out some old photographs most people haven't seen," said Fred Lynch, a current Southeast Missourian photographer. "I knew we would be able to go back into the archives and find significant news photos that most people hadn't seen."

While the paper dates back to 1904, the oldest images chosen for the show come from the 1950s, both by Garland D. Fronabarger. One photograph shows a motor boat traveling south on Main Street during the flood of July 1951, 13 years before the floodwall was completed. Another picture from October 1952 shows Richard Nixon during a visit to Cape Girardeau.

"These images show us the styles of the day," Lynch said. They show the old automobiles, the streets and what the community looked like back then. "Things look different today."

According to photo editor Kit Doyle, the exhibit had been talked about, but the December show was a bit of a fluke. The originally scheduled show for the month fell through and arts council executive director Melissa Miller asked if the Southeast Missourian show could take the spot. Doyle, Lynch and others went to work.

"I think it's a really cool and unique opportunity to display exceptional work that spans decades," Doyle said.

He said they chose to display significant events from the past to show how photojournalism has changed over the years. The natural disasters, the politicians visiting and the scene setters like the river or Academic Hall make up the 60 or so photos in the show. Former Southeast Missourian photographer Aaron Eisenhauer's award-winning photograph of a FedEx driver helping a man out of a ditch on a flooded road in March 2008 will be displayed near Fronabarger's 1951 flood photo. A snowball fight in front of Academic Hall from mid-century will hang near a 2008 photo of the same activity.

"You can see the difference in approaches to photography but also the similarities in everyday life that happen regardless of advances in technology," Doyle said.

The older photographs displayed had to be scanned into the computer to be printed. Doyle, Lynch and Southeast Missourian librarian Sharon Sanders figured out the dates of the events, tracked down the pictures and scanned them in.

"Luckily our librarian is insanely well-organized," Doyle said.

The exhibit includes pictures from current and former Southeast Missourian photographers Fred Lynch, Kit Doyle, Elizabeth Dodd, Aaron Eisenhauer, Diane L. Wilson, Garland D. Fronabarger, Mark Sterkel and Donald Kremer. Each of the 60-plus photos will be for sale at the Arts Council and people will be able to order reprints online at semissourian.com.

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