Monday, April 10, 2006

Searching for a current photo of a photographer who's skipped a lot of class reunions

Sometimes the strap on the blue, handwoven African purse that's become a handy carrying bag for my little digital camera needs a little TLC. I drop it off at Cecil's West on Odana Road and a few days later, it's repaired, restored, and ready for action.

Cecil's is owned and operated by Ron "Cecil" Burke, son of Cecil K. Burke, the renowned craftsman whose custom-made sandals were extremely popular in Madison during the 1960s and 1970s. Cecil's Sandals changed locations several times, but around the time we were ending our high school careers and thinking about college, the draft, and being able to drink beer legally, Cecil's was located at 606 University Avenue (next door to the Green Lantern Eating Co-op and two doors down from the 602 Club).

Since there were some other customers in the store when I dropped by to pick up my purse, I had time to look around Cecil's West a bit, and that's when I noticed a familiar poster on the wall. I have one too, but like so many other posters I own, it's rolled up in a tube and stored in a closet, not framed and hanging on a wall.

The poster, which resembles the Madison magazine cover shown here, was created for one of the first exhibits presented in 1980 at the new Madison Art Center facility in the then new Madison Civic Center. The show was titled "Citizen" and it featured 83 (or maybe 89, accounts differ) photographs of some of Madison's most "notable energizers." The photographer was Doug Edmunds (he'd jettisoned the nickname many of his Wisconsin High and Central High School classmates still rememember him by). Among his subjects were Elroy Hirsch, Linda Franklin, Paul Soglin, Tara Graham Icke, Eugene Parks, and brothers Thomas George and Alphonse Maximillian Reichenberger, former owners of the Dangle Lounge, posing topless.

Seeing the poster at Cecil's brought back lots of memories, but at least one of them needed some fine-tuning. I thought I remembered a Madison magazine cover that resembled the "Citizen" poster, and I thought I had a copy stashed away somewhere. When I couldn't find my copy, I tried the Madison Public Library. I checked all the issues of Madison magazine from the 1980s, but couldn't find one with "Citizen" on the cover. A few days ago, a copy of the December 1992 Madison magazine emerged from one of my "to be filed" collections and there it was -- a cover story about what the "Citizen" subjects were doing 12 years later, written by Jenifer Winiger, who is now Madison magazine's publisher. The magazine's editor in 1992 was Doug Moe, now a columnist for The Capital Times (who, by the way, mentioned Central High School in today's column about 1993 graduate Don Trachte).

Doug Edmunds is still working as a photographer. You'll find some examples of his more recent work on the website for Edmunds Studios. What you won't find there is a photograph of Doug, who hasn't attended a class reunion in recent memory, so I haven't been able to capture his image on film or picture card. The photos above accompanied the 1992 "Citizen" article. The last time I can recall seeing Doug was in the 1980s when he took my portrait (not for "Citizen," but another occasion in my sometimes weird, but often wonderful, past). However, this 1992 photo confirms my recollection of what he looked like a couple of decades ago.

A new Madison Art Center (now called the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art) is scheduled to open soon in the new Overture Center that replaced the new Madison Civic Center, but I'm not aware of a pending new show by Doug Edmunds. I for one, however, would be overjoyed to have an opportunity to write a story for Madison magazine that again updates the whereabouts of the "notable energizers" photographed for "Citizen." It would not only be a fascinating assignment, it would probably generate an opportunity to find out what Doug looks like today.

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