Dennis Mecham, an amazing local photographer, has lived down the street from me for seven years. Over the years, I would stroll into his studio and check out his most recent work or say hello as we picked up our morning coffee. As far as a in depth conversation the time never seem to be available – me always on my way to work, him, well, I guess I should have asked where he was off too. As I mull over my encounters with Dennis I’m reminded of the song from a PBS program. “Who are the people in your neighborhood, in your neigh-bor-hood the people that you meet each day?
Dennis started out as most artists do, trying to find time and money to pursue his passion. His diligence is still visible today and conjures up visions of a young boy working for a mapmaker to pay for his college education. His work began first with architectural photography, then in to the less practical but more intriguing nudes. Dennis is a man of strength and conviction, always trying to improve on what he has done before.
“I get a lot of comments on Gallery Stroll about the quality of my prints, I’m always trying to push the envelope artistically and technically.” Mecham says. “It’s like being a chef, it’s the love and passion that goes into it that escalates the work from what a short order cook would make.”
Since he has worked in photography for over 25 years I wondered if the recent expansion of digital camera’s had influenced his work or thoughts on photography’s future? “Not that it doesn’t have it merit,” he tells me, “but it doesn’t have the hand made quality and the magic when a person captures just the right moment. First run prints will always command higher praise and value than a digital print. There use to be more overlapping between fine art and commercial but I find that digital is used so much for commercial and now I don’t see as much of a connection. Digital Art should be considered it’s own medium.”
Dennis has worked very hard to fine tune his craft but as any artist would tell you the promotion of your work can be even more of a job than the actual creation of the work. Recently, Dennis has turned his efforts not only on promotion here in the states but globally with ads and recognition in the nationally distributed and highly acclaimed Black and White Magazine. The recognition afforded him the opportunity to be nominated and awarded a Black and White Spider Award in 2004 for his work on the architectural piece, entitled “Gehry #2,”|3| for the Frank Gehry music hall in Los Angeles. His work will be on display at the upcoming Photo San Francisco EXPO as a guest from Ink Magazine, which will also feature Dennis’ work in a six page spread for the July issue. He will also exhibit at the Moore Gallery in New York City this fall. On the home front, look for Dennis’ work in the upcoming Summer Group Show at Phillips Gallery from July 15th through September 9th and a solo show at the Finch Lane Art Barn next spring.
I’m amazed and inspired by what Mecham is doing with his work and I am grateful for his contribution to our art community in Salt Lake. I’m sure that you have artists and neighbors who do amazing things all the time. Take the time to ask, get involved and appreciate the people in your neighborhood. Community is a combination of come and unity. Support your local artists as they support you.
This article originally appeared in the July 2005 edition of 15 Bytes
For many years, Mariah Mann Mellus was the dedicated art writer for SLUG Magazine and has also been a contributor to The New Century Collector and Artists of Utah’s 15 Bytes.