OVH resident Frank Kuchirchuk is 'Picture Perfect'

PERKINS TWP. The reason photographer Frank Kuchirchuk likes jazz is simple. "You
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

PERKINS TWP.

The reason photographer Frank Kuchirchuk likes jazz is simple.

"You play it like you feel, just like in photography you take pictures the way you see it, the way it makes you feel," he said. "It's a growth from within the person."

Kuchirchuk, now 83, lives at the Ohio Veterans Home. Photos he took decades ago when he was working for the International News Service are becoming as famous as the musicians in them.

Kuchirchuk spent days photographing famous jazz singers, trumpeters, bassists, drummers and pianists at Lindsay's Sky Bar in Cleveland from 1951-53 because the music turned him on.

"I became interested in jazz because the personalities of the people were so down to earth," he said.

The Ohio Veterans Home will display his work at 2 p.m. Friday in the auditorium as a continuation of Kuchirchuk's second time in the spotlight.

After an exhibition at the East Cleveland Library earlier this year, Kuchirchuk's work began to shine as a lost melody of jazz, capturing an era at its height in photos.

"The biggest problem I have with myself is I never promoted myself. Now all of the sudden its coming to me," he said.

Kuchirchuk's first limelight came in the form of 16 photographs printed in The Metronome's 1953 yearbook of jazz.

The magazine said Kuchirchuk was "of a very substantial jazz enthusiasm."

That enthusiasm comes from the music, he said.

"It all comes down to the music, the jazz. The photography was just my interpretation of the musicians -- their art."

Shot with a 4x5 Speed Graphic camera, his work is a combination of the artist in motion and some photography tips, he said.

Using several strobe lights he could flash while taking pictures, Kuchirchuk captured the musicians' emotion and the ambiance of their surroundings to make dramatic photographs.

He can still hear the music behind the photos.

Kuchirchuk flips through a master book of slides from the library exhibit to a photograph of Anita O'Day.

"Don't the moon look lonesome shining through the trees ... duh nah nah na na ..." he croons while moving his hands and feet to the music from his wheelchair before going onto the next photo of O'Day being interviewed on a radio show.

Kuchirchuk is still deciding who will take care of the voluminous collection of photos of greats like Dizzy Gillespie , Sara Vaughn, Louis Armstrong an Billie Holiday, to name a few.

The praise and esteem still take him by surprise, Kuchirchuk said.

"The only hope I can have is I hope they like them," he said about his photographs.