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"CHICAGO AND THE DIANA: TOY CAMERA IMAGES BY DAN ZAMUDIO"
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Gallery News" January 2011
Chicago Maroon January 10, 2011
CHICAGO NEON SIGNS:
Neighborhood and Downtown Landmarks Through a Toy Camera
WGN-TV "Midday News" Dec. 1, 2008
Chicago Tribune Oct. 9, 2008
Part 1 / Part 2
USA TODAY Oct. 7, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times Oct. 3, 2008
Lost and Saved NPR Radio Interview Nov. 7, 2008
Midwest Book Review December 2008
A review by Hugh Iglarsh
Dan Zamudio has participated in each of the three Algren exhibits. He uses his vintage
Diana camera, with its plastic lens and uncertain focus, in a Proustian quest to capture
the feel of a swiftly receding past. As Algren wrote nostalgic elegies to the tight-knit
urban village of his youth, so Zamudio presents visually the artifacts of an older communal
order, lingering here and there between dollar stores and Wal-Marts. “Neon signs are
disappearing quickly,” he says, victims of Midwestern winters and the winds of fashion.
He has collected some of what is left. The overlapping words written in light against
the darkness of the Chicago night are like frames from a classic film noir. The pictures are
jazzy evocations of a pre-television age, when every neighborhood had its little Broadway
and Chicago after dusk was indeed a neon wilderness.
"CHICAGO IN BLACK AND WHITE"
A review by Hugh Iglarsh
To use a toy “Diana” camera, with it’s cloudy plastic lens and guesswork viewfinder, is
to gamble with light and space-creating a certain parallel between photographer Dan
Zamudio and Nelson Algren. But Zamudio wins more often at the developing tray than
did Algren at the poker table. Influenced directly by Algren’s writings and also by Art
Shay’s photo essays, Zamudio creates small-scale monuments to a disappearing city:
Algren’s “neon wilderness” of dark streets and alleys punctuated by glowing, blinking
appeals to drown one’s sorrow inside.
Several shots are of landmarks that graced their neighborhood for generations, such as
the gigantic “THIRSTY?” sign that flashed its message of liquid relief in Jefferson Park
for more than 70 years, until torn down last fall at the prompting of an uptight city that
wants it’s signs flat and it’s vices discreet. And there’s DeMar’s coffee shop on Chicago
Avenue, which is still there, holding out in a neighborhhod that’s trending yuppie. “I know
it’s going to be gone soon”, says Zamudio of his efforts to document this modest landmark.
“Back porches are disappearing, too- and whole blocks of frame houses are just being
wiped out for new buildings that have no character.”
West division Street in the 1950’s was known as “Polish Broadway.” Then the neon had
an appealing brashness, like a shiny plaid suit. In today’s postmodern city, the old flash is
cultivated as a nostalgia trip for hipsters seeking to escape the colorless, shadowless space
of the strip mall and parking lot. Zamudio’s city is gray and its elements lack sharp definition.
His photos are less about the things themselves than the threatened urban ecosystem they
occupy. The old industrial city depicted here was no Shangi-La, but it had what the
photographer refers to as a “lived-in” quality, in contrast to the oddly grim affluence of
Wicker Park’s new loft and condo complexes. There are stories within these intimate
photos- stories and characters and memories. They’re meant to be “reminiscent of your
grandparents’ photo album,” says Zamudio. Their bittersweet tone, seasoned with on
offhand humor, deserves the adjective Algrenesque.
by Hugh Iglarsh and Warren Leming
Dan Zamudio's photos are tiny windows into a disappearing present, the once-ubiquitous
Chicago of grimy corner diners and faded boarding houses. It is the fraying working-class
fabric of a gentrifying city. Shot over the past year and a half, these black and white photos
seem infinitely older, casting the soft focus of nostalgia over an environment slipping away
before our eyes. The rusting vintage automobiles caught by his dime store "Diana" camera
with its cloudy lens could be stuffed bison shabbily commemorating an ancient vanished
"All that's solid melts into air," wrote Marx about capitalism's dance of creative destruction.
Here we see the process in action, the great meltdown of place and history into the
blankness of so-called "real" estate.
"The character of the city is going," says Zamudio. "I have to save what I like." The
imperfection of his plastic camera makes it perfect for his warts-and-all mission. "What
you see and what the camera sees can be totally different," he says."You just let go of
control." It's at these moments of Zen-like relinquishment that the present moment
wavers and the city tells its own story.
CATCHER IN THE WRY
Waukegan News Sun June 21, 2003
NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture
Vol. 12 No.2 2004
Excerpt of review by Richard Crepeau
"Zamudio is a Cub fan, a Chicago Northsider, who brings a great deal of passion to his
subject...Zamudio's poetry ranges well beyond the Cubs and touches on many marks
and landmarks of the game, taking us beyond the friendly confines to other venues past
and present. He references the broader baseball experience from across his years and
captures a nice feel of the game along the way. His language is spare, and at times
cryptic, delivered with a wink or a knowing smile. My favorite from this collection is
a brief and sharp piece entitled "Hustle and Energy", in which a high school baseball
coach makes it clear to his players the requirements to make the team. The response
of the players is wry and wonderfully understated."
AETHLON: The Journal of Sport Literature
Vol. XXII No.2 2004
Excerpt of review by Dale Ritterbusch
"Dan Zamudio's collection is filled with terse, often humorous pieces that in their ironic
design (hence the title) achieve something of the effect of haiku. Often, however, the
effect is fleeting, conjuring moments that all baseball fans share and recognize..."
HOW TO SNEAK INTO THE MOVIES
Loompanics Unlimited Featured Author 1999
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY April 1995
"DEDICATION OF THE WEEK"
"This book is dedicated to me for all my hardwork and long hours typing, all the money
I spent on ribbon for my word processor and all the friends I lost who thought a book
about sneaking into movies would destroy their way of life." From How to Sneak into
the Movies by Dan Zamudio
THE NEW YORKER October 12, 1998
"BOUND TO BE BAD: True Crime meets How-To"
By Scott Stossel
Among the various ways of sneaking into the movies, neophytes will do well to start
with the “pay for one, stay for more” method. When the movie to which you’ve
gained proper admission is over, make your way nonchalantly to the lobby, then
duck into the bathroom. Check your schedule to find out when the next film you
want to see is playing. When you see a group of people leaving the bathroom, walk
out with them, trying to blend in, before heading to the auditorium showing your
movie. If there is someone at the door checking ticket stubs, purchase some
popcorn and perhaps a beverage at the concession stand: these will be your props.
Explain that your date has your stubs – that you were just buying some popcorn.
Is the employee actually going to leave his station and follow you into the theatre
to verify your story? Of course not. The tub of popcorn will be proof enough.
Start early in the day and you’ll be able to make your way through the complete
offerings of your local multiplex before closing time, and all on a single ticket.
That’s just some of the wisdom you’ll find in a slender volume entitled,
“How to Sneak Into the Movies.” It is one of the seven hundred books published
by Loompanics Unlimited, each providing detail instructions for activities that range
from misdemeanors to felonies…”
MAXIM April 2000
"HOW TO SNEAK INTO THE MOVIES: You want to see Rocky 26—you just don’t want to pay $9.50"
By Alex Porter
Sneaking into a movie theater can provide you with more than just an adrenaline rush
and two hours of free entertainment. As Dan Zamudio, author of How to Sneak into
the Movies, explains, “Women love guys who live on the edge.” As you and your
date arrive at the theater, tell her, “Oh, I’ve snuck in here before,” and employ one
of these surefire tips. Just don’t forget to bring money for snacks: Eating candy
off the floor will make you look cheap.
Join the family
On opening nights or weekends, follow closely behind a large group or family as they
enter. Make sure the ticket taker tears their whole wad of tickets at once, then enter
with them. Remember, you want to blend in, so leave the black trench
coat at home.
Take it from behind
Sneak around to the rear exits (hey, you were on your way to the Dumpster anyway).
As the crowd from the previous show pours out, you slip in. If an usher catches you,
explain that you’ve left something on your seat…like that stool sample you were
supposed to bring to the doctor.
Flush the usher
Coordinate the end of your first movie for around 6 p.m., when most theaters
schedule their shift changes. Ushers will be too busy trying to get home in time
to soak their faces in Clearasil to care whether you’ve paid for the next show.
Order half-price senior tickets in advance from Moviefone (www.moviefone.com).
Chances are the harried ticket taker at the theater won’t even pay attention to what’s
printed on the ticket. If for some reason he gives you a hard time, simply brain him
with your magnesium-alloy walker.