I was born in Ingolstadt, Germany, the son of Latvian war refugees. My parents escaped from Latvia during the height of WWII as the Russian Red Army charged in to occupy and conquer this Baltic seaport nation. They left behind their homes and careers, members of their families, and all their possessions and fled, making their way across Latvia to The Baltic Sea on foot, while hiding in barns and ditches to avoid the low flying invading Russian Red Army sniper planes and soldiers pounding at their heels. My mother, Zelma, was about 18 at the time. She was walking back from school down a country road when her older sister, Elfrieda, found her and told her that they didn't even have time to return to their house for anything as Russian soldiers were already in their village and they needed to flee immediately. After walking across much of Latvia heading for The Baltic Sea on the Western coast, staying hidden, and being helped and fed by famers who had decided not to leave their homes or country and face the possible dire consequences, the two young high school girls made it to relative safety where they both made their way to a Displaced Persons Refugee Camp in Ingolstadt, Germany. Just before arriving at the Displaced Persons camp my mother had noticed a handsome young man working in the forrest just outside the camp filled with refugees from all over Europe. She soon met him--he was also a Latvian refugee. He became her husband and my father, Janis Voldemars Kaulins. My mom said she loved him so much that she said no other woman was going to get him--and she was right. They were married in the DP Camp. Soon after the War my twin sister Laima and I were born. We were very young when we were born. When I was 3 years old, our family, after a long difficult ocean voyage during which my mother was seasick the entire time, landed in America at Ellis Island in New York harbor. I had the whooping Cough, a common disease at that time, and to my parents delight and surprise, I was quiet long enough without having coughing fits that we were able to get on-board the huge departing ship and make it through the medical check. If we hadn't been allowed on board, it would have been many many months or much longer before we could apply again and have any chance of coming to America. My parents must have looked in wonder and anticipation at what lay ahead for them and their young twins, as they approached the New York City skyline and The Statue of Liberty. Coming from a small rural village they had never seen skyscrapers or a city like this!
We grew up in Dundee, a small town about an hour south west of Detroit. We all had to learn English at the same time as none of us knew any English. My father spoke four languages, but none of them were English. Dundee was a pleasant place to grow up for the most part. I fondly remember the many picinics in our big tree covered back yard and my first dog, Brownie, who was never trained very well and would often run away---usually with my dad chasing him down the street. Occasionally we would go into the city where we would take family outings to Detroit Tiger Stadium and take rides on the Detroit Bob-Lo Boat that would take us to the Bob-Lo Island Amusement Park on the Detroit River. On hot summer days would swim on the sandy beaches of Lake Erie near Monroe. Lake Erie with it's dark waters and big lapping waves looked like the ocean to me. There is a Nuclear Power Plant within a few miles of that beach now with two huge smoke billowing smokestacks that look like they are each large enough to swallow the Titanic. You can see smoke billow for miles and miles across the flat countryside and farmland that surrounds the facility. Sometimes on a very clear day you can even see the nuclear plant smoke from Detroit. I can remember how very sandy all the beaches were--the loose white sand under foot made it difficult to walk. In mid summer it was so hot that I often burned my feet on the sun heated sand, though I tried to jump from foot to foot quickly as I ran for the cool quenching blue-green white crested waves of Lake Erie. For some reason the hot sand never bothered my twin sister very much. She was tough.
After graduation from Dundee High School, I was offered a four year full ride Academic Scholarship in the Theatre and Dramatic Arts Department at Eastern Michigan University, which I eagerly accepted. Having had the lead in most of the High School plays and being President of our Drama Club--I figured I was destined for The Silver Screen--however, when I got to college interests changed and I became interested in psychology, anthropology, sociology, writing and literature--bye bye Drama Department. Farewell Silver Screen. I
earned my Bachelor's Degree at Eastern Michigan University and did my Graduate studies at
The University of Michigan School of Social Work in Ann Arbor. College was fun--I loved it. But when I went to Graduate School I think everyone got way too serious about their studies. My sister and I didn't. She ended up in the same field as me--amazingly we went from kindengarten through Grad School together with many shared classes and experiences. In Grad School we'd sometimes laugh so hard during class at someone who was trying to show off to the class or teacher that we'd have to leave the room because we were laughing so hard, tears running down our cheeks. Once she or I would start snickering, the other one couldn't help but burst out laughing and on it went. It's like that with twins. We wouldn't come back to the class that day.
It was during my college days that I began going
to Detroit even more for concerts and for sporting events. Eventually I got to know the city
well. Since I became a
professional artist/photographer, over twenty years ago, I have gotten to know the city and many of the
people pretty well and made many friends by exhibiting my art and photography in the Detroit streets at the numerous juried Art Fairs in and around the city as well as in select Art Galleries in the Metropolitan area. This led me to create my PHOTOGRAPHS OF DETROIT series. I wanted
to include the reconizeable landmarks, buildings and bridges, but also some of the more local
images to which people who lived in the city would relate. The more I photographed Downtown Detroit the more I liked it's feel and sound and unique look.
Our home, with it's golden colored scalloped cedar siding and mulitcolored roof with large diamond shapes made from the colorful shingles, where I currently live, is a beautifully restored and updated 1920's house on the knoll of a large sports and fishing lake in Manitou Beach, Michigan, which is a very small town in a scenic area in Southeastern Michigan called The Irish Hills. I live there with my wife Deb, who is a professional potter, and who I met at an Art Fair in Greektown, Detroit almost 20 years ago. She has her Porcelain Pottery Studio in half of a converted Guest House behind our main house. My darkroom is in the other part of the Guest House. We have our two Jack Russell Terriers, Barry and Little Bear. The newest addition to our family is our recently adopted son Aidan, who is a little over a year and half old, has eight teeth, going on ten teeth real soon, running pretty fast, and has figured out how to balance a square wooden closepin on end, and gets smarter and laughs a lot each day. I look forward to seeing his sweet smile every morning. He has also learned how to bring Daddy his slippers in the morning. (Update to this bio: Aidan just turned 6, is a popular kid in his Kindergarten class, loves trains, sticker books, bowling (without buddy bumpers!), is an excellent basketball shooter, and loves feeding the Llamas at the Llama farm near us almost every day after school. He is still the apple of his daddy's eye.)
Some of the shows I've participated in around the Detroit area include The
Greektown Festival of Arts, The Birmingham Shain Park Arts Festivals, Arts and Apples in Rochester Hills, The Detroit Festival
of The Arts, and the Arts, Beats, and Eats Festival in Pontiac and Royal Oak. Some of the many hundreds of
national shows in which I have participated include The Coconut Grove Festival of Arts in
Miami, FL, The Ann Arbor Art Fair, The Atlanta Festival of Arts, The Laguna Gloria
Festival of Arts in Austin, TX, The Walt Disney Invitational Festival of The Masters in Orlando,
The Milwaukee Museum Lakefront Arts Festival, The Kansas City Plaza Art Fair, Gasparilla Festival
of Arts in Tampa, Las Olas Museum Festival of Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, Dayton Art Museum
Art Festival, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and The Art Deco Festival in
South Beach, Miami.
Many of my photos were taken while traveling the
country on my old Harley-Davidson in search of vanishing bits of Americana and my perspectives on the cities that I liked.
Some of my other photo series (New Orleans and Miami Beach) began
while I was in those cities doing art fairs and became fascinated by their
culture and architecture, and decided to begin
re-visiting them for a photographic series. During the last three winters we spent several
weeks in Maui, Oahu, and The Big Island Hawaii to add yet another travel series to
my photos. This time I decided to shoot color film instead of my usual
black and white film.
In my travels some of my adventures include Running With the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain at The Festival of San Fermin, sipping Mint Juleps and watching The Southern Belles beautifully dressed in their flowing long dresses, colorful wide brimmed sun hats, and finery at The Kentucky Derby, sleeping on the beaches on the Island of Ibiza in The Mediterranean Sea, riding my old shovelhead Harley to The Sturgis South Dakota 50th anniversary Harley gathering with about 500,000 other Harley riders including The Hell's Angels and The Outlaws, backpacking through the Swiss Alps and Austria, watching The Detroit Tigers at the World Series, collecting hundreds of pounds of shed Elk antlers in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana with which to make jewelry and pipes to sell at outdoor Bluegrass Music Festivals, from the Blue Ridge Mountains and Tennessee to The Annual Fiddlers Conventions in Union Grove, North Carolina--absolutely one of the most renegade events that existed for many years before the local politicians worried about the image of this event on their state, and their close allies The County Sheriffs, finally closed it down--after 50 years. In another adventure I was run out of town by the Sherriff in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. On a trip to the Rocky Mountains another summer I was chased by a buffalo and barely escaped with my life---but that's a whole other story. I've been fortunate to have watched and listened to Stevie Ray Vaughn , Dr. John and The Neville Brothers perfoming live on the same night on a midnight riverboat moonlight cruise aboard The Natchez on the Mississippi River in New Orleans. I've been snorkeling inside the remnants of an inactive volcano in the Pacific Ocean, cheered on my favorite drivers at The Indy 500, visited the notorious Kif dens and drank bottles of Heinikens on the edge of the canals in Amsterdam. I've been shooting pool at The Boot Hill Saloon at Daytona Bike Week, drinking cask poured red wine from my goatskin bag at the foot of the Eiffel Tower at midnight, and enjoying bratwurst, sauerkraut and large steins of dark beer for breakfast (just like the locals) at a train station just outside of Heidelberg, Germany after spending all night singing German songs at the HofbrauHouse (and not knowing any of the words). I still can't speak German.
I've stood on the top of active Kileauha Volcano in the Pacific and watched the sun set into the mist beyond the New York City skyline from the Empire State Building. I have been fishing for shark with rotted Herring for bait to find the most desperate and hungry shark of the pack with a writer friend of mine in the Wild Mangroves off the shores of Old Key West. Black Pierre was the Pen Name he used for his books. On the back flyleaf where authors sometimes have a photo and short bio, Black Pierre wanted to use a striking photo that he had of himself. It pictured him snarling menacingly with a few crooked front yellow teeth gleaming, a black pirate like looking black patch on a string across his right eye. In this photo his very long dark cury scraggley hair hangs around him as he glares at the viewer, holding the large red handled hunting knife raised in front of him with his hand tightly clenched---the knife which he himself had made. His first book was about a pioneer traveling the country from brothel to brothel and his subsequent adventures in the Wild West of the early 1840's. He was one of the most artistic and talented friends I've ever known. He died early last spring in a freak incident in the National Forrest in Oregon which bordered his cabin. He fell into a deep ravine and during that night he died of exposure. I miss him a lot. He was a renaissance man, artist and dear friend.
In North Africa I rode on the infamous Marakech Express, the train from Marakech to Casa Blanca after having fortunately survived a long trek across the Sahara Desert in an old blue rickety chicken and cattle filled occasionally running pretty well Moroccan bus. I've splashed in the waters on the Coast of Africa with multi colored seashells and ancient smooth stones at my feet.
My travels have taken me through 48 states. most
recently The Big Island Hawaii, Scandinavia, much of Western Europe and part of North Africa.
The road is from where much of my inspiration comes. I plan to be doing more photography while traveling in an ongoing (is that really a word?) project, that being finishing up an almost completely restored vintage two-tone red 1954 Jaguar Mark VII Saloon, which is nearing completion with it's new fuel-injected V-8 engine running strong--it should be ready for the road real soon--so will I. I've got places to see and plenty of film. That's a couple of photos of it on the right, just beneath this paragraph.
Here's two of my cameras. At the top is my colorful plastic Mickey Mouse camera. It's lens has 13 facets on it, so that when you look through it, it's like looking through the eye of a fly. It also features a great embossed picture of Mickey on the front holding his camera, with his Press Pass on the band of his Fedora. The black camera is my medium format Pentax 645N. For many of my sports photos I use a Nikon F5 with 2.8 200mm or 300mm lens not pictured here. My most recent additions are my digital Nikon D300 and D600 cameras (not pictured here) with which I am doing an entirely new series of MULTIPLE EXPOSURE photography, which combines 7 to 9 bracketed exposures layered together and then worked on to create one photo---more on that later. I've also recently created a 'Vintage and Rare Historical Detroit Photo Series' from my large private collection of original negatives and 1st generation black and white prints, dating from about 1900 to the 1950's, that I restore and offer as fine-art photo prints. More on that later as well. It's late. Cheers.
medium in which I work is HAND COLORED BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY.
|The Medium in
which I primarily work is HAND COLORED BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY. Before the
relatively recent advent of color film, photographers, since The Civil
War, have used pencils, dyes and paint brushes to add color to their black
and white photos.
|This is a
tradition I carry on today. Each original photo is printed on a special
double weight matt finish fiber base paper, usually 11"x14" or 16"x20" and
mounted. It is then swabbed with a special mixture of turpentine and oil
and then rubbed out with cotton to remove excess fluids from the surface.
It is then very carefully and meticulously hand colored with the medium
and then left to dry. This fiber base original is then taken and
rephotographed with a larger format film from which is made an
internegative. It is from this internegative that I do all of my color printing
in my own studio and darkroom. Because I do all of my own printing I can
guarantee the quality of each print to be absolutely the finest.
|I have used the
medium of hand-colored photography in several series that I have done. The
series include three urban areas, being Detroit, Miami South Beach (Art
Deco), and New Orleans. Being a Michigander I've added a photo series of
MSU and U of M. I also have a body of work of vintage motorcycles, cars,
Drive-Ins, vintage cigar boxes, and old Diners that is available in this
format. My newest series is of two of the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu and Maui.
This series was shot entirely with ulta-color Kodak Professional Portra
color negative film. The color in these photographs is spectacular. Most of my photos have been taken with a medium format 645N Pentax Camera and Pentax lenses. All of my photography processing and printing is done in the classic traditional way from film and negatives in my own darkroom. This year I have added an entirely new form of photography to my line---that is MULTIPLE EXPOSURE HDR digital imagery where each finished photo is made from 7 to 9 separate bracketed exposures and then layered together.
I have also added a large series of rare vintage 'Historical Detroit' black and white photos that I restore digitally and then print in sepia tone. This great and rare collection of Detroit images ranges from about 1900 through the early 1960's. It has taken about 15 years to put this historical Detroit Photo Gallery collection together. I offer close to 500 different never before offered vintage photos of Detroit in that series. They can be seen on this website and directly at www.OldDetroitPhotos.com The photographic adventure continues---stay tuned.
|I am also a collector of vintage motorcycle toys, old pinball (bagatelle)
games, vintage advertising thermometers, art glass, Niagara Falls memorabilia, tobacco tin tags, and toy Ray
Guns (two of my favorite ones being a metal Buck Rogers one from 1936, one from The Tom Corbett Space Series of the 1950's and a 1950's Space
Patrol with great graphics.) I am considering doing my next photographic series on these
Ray Guns--stay tuned.
I hope you enjoy my photo collection. Check back periodically as I am always adding new images to this website.
Please bookmark this site, as we will be continually
adding new images to the collection.
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Jan at an Art Fair