Thursday October 15, 2009

ABC, 1-2-3, NYC

An exhibit at the Rike Center Gallery shows the ABCs and 1-2-3s in a new way with photographs of New York City.

When New York City photographer Joanne Dugan sought a creative way to teach her son the alphabet, she also found a new way of looking at the world.

Dugan walked the streets of New York with a camera in hand and took photos of the signs and words — the urban typography — that surrounded her everywhere she looked. She then paired those letters with photographs of what they represent in a child's eyes ("C" is for Chrysler Building, "G" is for Grand Central).

An interpretation of her book ABC NYC: A Book About Seeing New York City — and a similar counting book 123 NYC: A Counting Book of New York City — comprise an exhibit of photographs, words and typography on display this month at the University of Dayton.

"On Seeing What's Right in Front of You: ABCs, 123s and New York City," runs through Oct. 29, at the Rike Center Gallery. Dugan will host an artist's closing reception 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, at the gallery. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.

Although the ABC and 1-2-3 works were originally created with children in mind, Dugan said, they have proven to have equal appeal for adults interested in urban photography and typography.

"The result was an interesting view of New York people had never seen before," Dugan said. "We walk by signs every day, and we rarely consider them, but when you literally and figuratively zoom in to the details of these everyday sights, it causes a bit of a surprise and transformation."

Dugan will also lead an instructional course 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, at ArtStreet Studio E on the theme of tuning in to one's surroundings. The cost is $10; it is free for University of Dayton students, faculty and staff. Register by clicking on the related link.

The Rike Center Gallery exhibit also contains a collection of 20 black-and-white images of New York City Dugan shot and processed on analog film. Five books published with her photographs, including a humorous collection of wisdom overheard in beauty parlors and taxi cabs, will also be on display.

"People often tell me that after seeing the collections, they can't walk down the street without seeing their own life in a different way," Dugan said. "They experience their daily world in a new way it seems."

Dugan, a full-time visual artist since 1992, is on the faculty of the International Center of Photography in New York City and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass.

The Rike Center for Fine Arts is located on the south side of B lot, across from St. Mary's Hall. The gallery entrance is on the lower level. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday; and by appointment. For more information, contact Todd Hall, Rike Center gallery coordinator, at 937-229-3261 or

The University of Dayton department of visual arts is presenting the exhibit.

For more information, contact Meagan Pant, assistant director of news and communications, at 937-229-3256 or