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September 2, 1995

Perry is fortunate to have been chosen for the unique photo project scheduled here as a two-day event on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 29 and 30. Our town is going to be photographed as never before and the result will be like 48 hours frozen in time for future generations to study and, perhaps, admire.

During those two days, members of the Tulsa Photography Collective's "Assignment..." project will be with us to shoot scenes of many aspects of Perry and to interview a representative sampling of our residents to help them develop a visual documentary that will be available for generations yet to come. Life in this little Cherokee Strip community will be more understandable to those who come after us, thanks to this project.

Perhaps you've heard of similar undertakings in other locations in projects largely sponsored by the Eastman Kodak Co. I remember one, titled "A Day in the Life of Hawaii," which, like the others, captured an authentic likeness of the Island State and its diverse people. Life magazine printed many of those photos and a TV documentary was shown on one of the networks. Ours apparently will be on that order, but probably not on that scale.

Here's a portion of an explanation from the Collective, describing the purpose and motivation behind the project:

"In this ever-changing world, the more we change the more we become alike. There was a time that each town, area, state and region was distinctively different and unique. With such things as McDonald's, Holiday Inn, Wal-Mart, etc., it's hard to tell sometimes whether you are in Tokyo, New York or Tulsa. It's all becoming the same. We need to preserve some of the things that make us different from everyone else so that those who come after us can appreciate their uniqueness and celebrate it. In an attempt to preserve some of these things, the Tulsa Photography Collective's 'On Assignment:..' project was born.

"Beginning in September 1986, members of the Collective have visited a different Oklahoma community each fall. In sequence the communities were Pawnee, Drumright, Pawhuska, Nowata, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Tahlequah, Guthrie and Bristow. This season's project is Perry. On Friday, Sept. 29, 1995, members of the Collective will meet at a to-be-determined location to receive their assignment for the day. On Friday the goal will be to cover the "working" segment of the community. On Saturday, Sept. 30, the participants will roam at will and choose their own subject matter.

"The culmination of the project results in an exhibit of selected prints submitted by the participants. The exhibit will be on display in Perry in the spring and then on display in Tulsa at Pictures Gallery which is sponsored by the Tulsa Photography Collective. The prints from all of the exhibits remain in the Collectives' archives and a traveling exhibit from selected prints will be developed at a future date.

"The Tulsa Photography Collective is a not-for-profit fine arts organization devoted to promoting photography as an art form to the public. The Collective maintains Picture Gallery which is currently located at the Promenade Mall, 41st and Yale, 2nd floor meeting room at the food court. Photographic exhibits which feature local, regional or nationally known photographers are on display a month at a time. The Collective receives partial funding from the State Arts Council of Oklahoma and the National Endowment Fund with matching funds coming from membership dues, fund raising events and donations from interested parties."

As I say, Perry should be grateful for being included in this project. I know they want to snap scenes of real life and real locations in Perry, but wouldn't it be great if some of our public eyesores around town were cleaned up before the photographers come to town? It's a wonderful excuse for getting to work on some of those things you've been putting off all summer. Let's show Perry the way we want it to be perceived!