Oct. 16, 2006

Area images captured in photo display

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

The Dassel-Cokato community has been captured through the lens of photographer Eileen Allen, whose works can be seen on display at the Cokato Museum.

“Community Reflections: The Photography of Eileen Allen,” is a black-and-white exhibition of images Allen captured on film while working the DC area.

Two dozen of Allen’s favorite photographs of the area can be seen now through Saturday, Nov. 11 at the museum.

Historical structures such as barns are a common theme among the display. Allen was drawn by their texture and the story they tell.

They are a symbol of “what came to pass in those structures and what they meant in the history of a rural area,” she said.

The weathering of the wood gives the photo texture and draws the viewer in visually, Allen explained.

Other techniques she used were shown in “Two Cars from French Lake,” where the cars are hand-painted with oil “to give the photos a little extra depth and appeal,” Allen said.

Her favorite photo in the gallery is “Cokato Kids,” that she took while working for the Enterprise Dispatch.

It captures “a slice of life that happens on a warm spring day,” she said. It shows kids playing out in a puddle.

“As I brought this group of photos together, I could remember being in each location, taking every picture. It reminded me of the rich history of the area,” Allen said.

Cokato Museum Director Mike Worcester remembers when Allen worked for the newspaper. “She was in her glory when she was out in the community taking pictures of what looked interesting or intriguing,” he said.

Each photo in the gallery was selected by Allen, herself. The museum left it up to her.

“The museum didn’t want to dictate what images to include in her display,” Worcester said.

Worcester is excited to be featuring a photo display. “The fun of doing a photo display is that you have to take more than a cursory glance to appreciate the depth of the images in the display,” Worcester said.

“One quick look isn’t going to be enough to appreciate what the photographer has done,” he added.

The art gallery setting is complete with seating so a person can take time to enjoy the photos, which is what Worcester was intending.

Allen is a “wonderfully talented person who deserves recognition, and if we can help give her that recognition, that’s just fine,” he said.

The museum will be getting a visit this week from the Minnesota Professional Photographers Association, which will be viewing the Akerlund Studio and Allen’s work.

Allen is both humbled and nervous for this visit, but excited to show her work to such a group, she said.

During Allen’s time in the DC area, she had been a part of the Viewfinders Camera Club, in which she was able to learn a lot, she said.

“They are such a wonderfully talented group in the community,” she said.

Allen enjoyed working in the DC community and misses the people, she said. “I loved Dassel and Cokato, but I missed the river,” she explained.

In 2003, Allen returned to Stillwater, where she grew up with her 9-year-old daughter. She continues to do art work and shows and is currently experimenting on a small business venture, Allen said.

“My interest and love for photography grew by working for the Enterprise and I was lucky to express that and use it in the local paper,” she said.

Allen also admires both the Dassel and Cokato historical societies for the work they have done for the DC community.

“They do great things for the community. Mike does a great job keeping things fresh and alive, as well as telling the Akerlund story, which is a fascinating story,” Allen said.

The display is cosponsored by the Cokato Historical Society and Viewfinders Camera Club of Cokato and Dassel.

For details on purchasing one of Allen’s prints or to learn more about her work, contact her through e-mail at eallen@studio210.org.

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