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Charles J. Mintz to Present Social Comment-Infused Art in Harcum Gallery Exhibit

Artist Revisits Dozen Neighborhoods in Which He's Lived; All Host Foreclosed Homes

January 7, 2014

This piece, titled “Mellow,” features a foreclosed home from the Ann Arbor neighborhood in which he lived from 1972 to 1976. “Out of all the neighborhoods I visited to make these photographs, none seemed as unchanged as this one,” he said.

This piece, titled “Mellow,” features a foreclosed home from the Ann Arbor neighborhood in which he lived from 1972 to 1976. “Out of all the neighborhoods I visited to make these photographs, none seemed as unchanged as this one,” he said.

Cleveland artist Charles J. Mintz looks at changes in the socioeconomic make-up of 12 neighborhoods in which he’s lived in his Harcum Art Gallery exhibit at Wilmington College that opens Jan. 23 and runs through March 8.

An opening reception honoring the artist is slated for Jan. 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. Normal gallery hours are weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by special appointment arranged by curator Hal Shunk, professor of art.

Mintz’s exhibit, titled “Every Place I Have Ever Lived,” contains images of a foreclosed home in the 12 neighborhoods in which he’s spent his life. Each of the dozen pieces features two photos of the foreclosed property, one a base photo on fabric screwed into a piece of plywood with a second photo fashioned as a workable window shade that pulls down over the first photo.

One of the photos features his childhood home and is the only photograph of where he actually lived — the others portray other properties in his various neighborhoods.

“Many were built after wars in times of what seemed like boundless growth,” he said, noting that home ownership had become symbolic of the American Dream.

Maps on the sidepieces chart changes those neighborhoods’ median income, racial make-up and population, contrasting between when he lived there and the present, in addition to autobiographical information from that era of his life.

A drive down the street when he photographed his childhood home “yielded a stream of boarded up properties punctuated by now empty lots,” he said, noting that, when he visited this area again in 2011, his former home had been torn down.

“It was disturbing,” he said. “You expect these things to age and change, maybe deteriorate, but disappear?”

In another of his former neighborhoods, some of the homes were still in good shape; in fact, new construction dotted the landscape. “It looked a bit like a forest after a fire as plants begin to re-establish. It is, however, a mistake to be fooled by this optimism.”

Mintz said every artistic project he undertakes is “a journey” that reveals its meaning as it’s assembled.

“In ‘Every Place,’ the original concept was to show how this (foreclosure) crisis reaches beyond the very poor and is, in fact, a problem for all of us,” he said. “In the end, I don’t know what to think. This feels like a war on the idea of the family home.

“It’s easy to see who lost — I have no idea who won.”