I suppose I’ve reached a certain age when my talented friends start hosting retrospectives of their work. The trade-off is good when it’s youthful uncertainty for art-show openings with beer gardens, though, and here we are.
I’m really proud of my friend Chris Marion, as I tell him frequently on Instagram. There was a time when I knew him as an IT Guy with a good eye, toiling along with the rest of us in Western Massachusetts. Now, after mapping out a dream and honing in on a specific set of skills while doing so, he’s a full-time photographer with client names like NBA, WNBA, UConn, and MGM.
With a portfolio like that, no one would begrudge him a gallery show limited to celebrities, sports stars, and once-in-a-lifetime events. But Chris never forgets where he comes from, literally or figuratively, and his recent show From the 413 to the NBA was proof.
Held in the Benzine Gallery at Gasoline Alley in a once-industrial section of Springfield, Mass., Chris whittled his collection down to 100 bright spots — some captured locally, others from the sidelines of national championships or rock-legend concerts — and joined forces with more than 16 local small businesses who served as partners or vendors.
“It still feels like a dream that I grew up in the birthplace of basketball and now I get to help document the game at such a high level,” he says.
Back in the day, Chris and I shared the same friend and mentor: street photog, reporter, and one of the original members of the American paparazzi (back when velvet ropes meant something) Keith Sikes. He founded the Valley Photographic Center and helped me, Chris, and countless others navigate the business of art and the art of business when we were still young enough to want to set the world on fire.
Keith, who was always young enough to set the world on fire, passed away last year and I miss him very much. Chris’ exhibit opened with a photo and thank you to Keith, and that alone would’ve been enough to warrant the trip — my first overnight foray since a pandemic/medical crisis combo took me out of the game for a year and a half. But it was followed by capture-after-capture of some other very-important-humans… Current Olympian Flag-bearer and WNBA star Sue Bird. The Dropkick Murphys. LeBron James. Victoria, a little girl from Springfield, who’s portrait was hung at her eye-level in the show.
And for me, it was also a trip back to a city I called home for a decade; one that is overflowing with culture, diversity, talent, and strong connections… a combination I sometimes miss where I live now.
People say you can’t go home again … that may be true, but we can always go back and look at the pictures.
Read, watch, or listen to more about 413 to the NBA from some Western Mass. Media Greats: