April 26-June 1, 2014
As a young advertising copywriter and aspiring photographer, Bob Rehak took the “L” to work at the Leo Burnett agency downtown. From the train, he’d look down upon a section of Chicago that was a microcosm of the city during a time of great political and class transition. Determined to document the neighborhood and its people, one day Rehak got off the train and descended the steps of the Wilson platform and began to shoot what became a collection of over 5,000 black-and-white photos, capturing the essence of Uptown in the mid-70s.
Many of his photos feature gang members, derelicts, immigrants, and others marginalized by society. “Yet they were some of the most wonderful, welcoming people that I’ve ever come across,” said Rehak. When he asked to take their picture, they usually agreed eagerly and posed in situ, often with ruined buildings in the background or walls covered with graffiti. Through his portraits of the people of Uptown and how they lived, he was able to create a portrait of the neighborhood. One photograph featured the firehouse near the corner of Wilson and Broadway. One of the firefighters noted that during the mid-70s his unit was called out to as many as 400 fires a year, many set by arsonists. Uptown during that period had the busiest fire station in the nation.
Alyssa Berman-Cutler of Uptown United, a community organization promoting business and economic development in Uptown, has said of Rehak and his photos: “His work is a time capsule of Uptown forty years ago. He beautifully captured the diversity, including young people in love, families struggling to make a living, and kids, lots of kids, as if the whole neighborhood was a playground.”
Bob Rehak will display 17 signed AND numbered prints from his collection, and we will be hosting a digital montage at Everybody’s Coffee, a screening of images and a live online conversation with Bob Rehak.
He will tell us some of the stories behind the scenes, of when he took the photo and in some cases what he knows about how the person is doing now. There will also be a chance for Q & A.
Copies of his book Uptown: Portrait of a Chicago Neighborhood in the Mid-1970s are available for purchase at Everybody’s Coffee—makes a great gift!! Framed artwork is also for sale, own a piece of Uptown history!
Small 16″ x 20″ $250
Medium 20″ x 24″ $325
Large 30″ x 24″ $400
Everybody’s Coffee is open Monday to Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p. m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.