Pickels fascination with the out of the ordinary made photographs shine

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 2, 2007

With thousands of photographs to choose from, Lisa and Buddy Pickel have the daunting task of narrowing down their son&8217;s expansive collection of work into a suitable show for this Sunday&8217;s exhibit at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital. Even more difficult is the fact that the artist himself, Clark Pickel, is not able to help choose the work.

It has been one year since Clark was involved in a 14-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 80 near the entrance of Rock-Tenn that took his life, along with another Demopolis man, Jeremy Marlowe.

Clark&8217;s parents said at first it was difficult to look through their son&8217;s photos. In preparation for the show, they said it took a while before they were able to look through them and really begin to focus on choosing some to display for the public.

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The day of the accident, Lisa recalls that Clark&8217;s camera bag was not in his car, as it usually was. They found eight rolls of film that were undeveloped.

His father, Buddy, said Clark was always a strong critic of his own work, despite the positive words of others.

After graduating from high school, Clark moved to Birmingham to study studio art at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His father said each week he would go to Wolf Camera down the street from his job at a smoothie shop to develop just one roll of film. Eventually the workers there got to know him and asked why he only brought in one roll of film each week.

One week while looking over Clark&8217;s photographs in the store with some of the employees, the district manager happened to visiting. Immediately he spotted Clark&8217;s abilities.

With a new job and access to information about photography and a significant improvement in the cost of equipment, Buddy said Clark began to shoot as much as possible.

Lisa remembers his favorite subjects to shoot being out in nature, especially unusual trees or rocks. When he lived in Birmingham, she said, he liked to photograph dilapidated buildings and homeless people.

When shooting the homeless, Buddy said Clark took the time to get to know them.

One of Clark&8217;s favorite places to shoot was at the Little River Canyon in North Alabama. Buddy remembers his son driving up the night before and sleeping in his car all night long just so he could be there for the early morning hours, which he liked to shoot in the best.

Clark only showed his work once, at a Two Rivers Arts Council event last year at the Demopolis Public Library, where he sold one of his works. Prior to the show, Buddy said his son never gave his photographs titles or signed any of them.

The exhibit will feature 79 of Clark&8217;s original works, including many of his fianc/e Kelly Farnhan, one of his favorite people to shoot, his parents said. The exhibit will be on display until December.