Photographer Robert James Campbell took the photo of Chuck Berry that appears on the cover of this issue. In the 1950s and 1960s, Campbell took hundreds of photos of jazz and folk musicians. He died homeless in 2002, never recognized for his art or his contribution to documenting the history of jazz—until now.
The collection of Campbell’s photos eventually found its way into the hands of Portland, Oregon, author Jessica Feber, who published them last year in her book Rebirth of the Cool: Discovering the Art of Robert James Campbell. We’re republishing an interview with Ferber on page 10, along with a handful of Campbell’s photos. The world is full of stories like Campbell’s; unfortunately, many of these stories don’t have such a satisfying resolution.
This month we’re celebrating the art of people experiencing homelessness. We’ve collected stories from across the country that showcase artistic expression in the face of adversity. There’s Claude Ranville, a vendor from Megaphone in Vancouver, who finally realized his artistic potential after 35 years of running from it. And then there’s Randy Parcher, a vendor for Speak Up in Traverse City. Randy published a children’s activity book called Understanding Homelessness: Where Will Teddy Sleep? The book helps parents explain homelessness to their children.
Don’t worry—there’s creativity being expressed and cool stuff happening right here in Denver, too. On page 4 we profile Hard Time Writing Workshop, a new weekly writing group sponsored by Lighthouse Writers Workshop that meets at Denver Public Library. Hard Times was founded on the belief that everyone can benefit from putting his or her thoughts down on paper. We’ve also got poetry from our very own Denver VOICE vendors—including a poem on page 5 from a brand new vendor Justin Lee. Justin wrote the poem in to help process his feelings after his brother’s untimely passing.
As a VOICE supporter and reader, the fact that artists come from all walks of life won’t surprise you. Still, I like to think of this issue as confirmation that there is an artist in everyone, and that art exists everywhere. ■