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Observe Dallas 2015: Everyday Life Blown Up 5 Stories High
by Anne Bothwell 14 May 2015
sharum ronnie Print 3 at 500 S Ervay_Photo by Richard Andrew Sharum

“Ronnie,” at 500 S. Ervay. Photo: Richard Andrew Sharum.

Photographer Richard Andrew Sharum captures images of everyday people on the streets of Dallas. It’s the way he’s displaying them that’s unusual.

The photos are several stories high – the tallest is 10 stories – and they’ve been hanging on facades of buildings around downtown over the past several weeks.  Sharum‘s exhibition is called Observe Dallas 2015. He says he hopes his work will help people feel empathy and celebrate the ordinary.

Where to find the photos:

    • April 10-April 2016: One Main Place, 211 N. Ervay St.
    • April 13-May 25: Metro Bar, 800 Main St.
    • April 20-May 11: Ronnie, 500 S. Ervay St.
    • April 27-May 18: Father and Daughter, 601 Elm St. 
    • May 4-May 31: Father and Son, 601 Elm St.
    • May 11-May 31: Homeless Woman, 500 S. Ervay St.
    • May 18-May 31: Woman at Crosswalk, 601 Elm St. 
    • May 25-May 31: Immigrant Reform Protest, 800 Main St.

Sharum has photographed people on Dallas streets for years. The current exhibit includes eight photographs – three in color and five are black and white. They range from 40 by 40 feet to 40 by 60 feet.

I was just trying to capture Dallas as it is now. The people who walk on the streets. The people who are homeless, the people who aren’t homeless,” Sharum says.  “The father throwing his son up in the air at Klyde Warren Park. The father holding his daughter at the immigration reform protest in 2006, surrounded by American flags.”

sharum im reform Print 4 at 325 N St Paul_photo by Richard Andrew Sharum_small

“Immigrant Reform Protest” at 800 Main St. Photo: Richard Andrew Sharum.

“Basically I just wanted to show those things so that all people, regardless of class or social status could enjoy those photographs and understand that someone was highlighting them,” he said.

You’re turning the buildings of downtown into your art gallery?

RSThat’s precisely what it is. I’ve traveled all over downtown shooting this project and I’ve learned that Dallas has a lot of creative people but they have no avenue to express themselves. So I wanted to make my own gallery to circumvent the gallery scene in Dallas, to circumvent the art scene in Dallas.
sharum lunch Print 2 at 800 Main_Photo by Thomas Garza Photography (2)

“Metro Bar” by Richard Andrew Sharum at 800 Main St. Photo: Thomas Garza Photography.

You chose to display images of two homeless people in a particular place. Why?

RSOf all the buildings that I preselected for this project, the one I really, really wanted was 500 South Ervay, specifically for those two images of homeless people so I could put them on that building facing City Hall for them to look at every day. You have Dallas City Hall and right across the street is the Dallas Public Library and there’s a lot of homeless people who sleep in front of the Dallas Public Library every day. And I thought, the Dallas City Hall is right across the street, they see these people every day, but they’re little tiny dots of people. So, I thought, why not put two photographs that are gigantic, that they have to look at everyday they go to work, because all the windows face that direction. And so that was my little political statement.
Richard Andrew Sharum_portrait by Justin S Goode

Richard Andrew Sharum. Photo: Justin S. Goode

As a street photographer, you don’t always meet the people you photograph. Do you know if any of your subjects have seen themselves four stories high?

RSI’ve only heard of one, the first homeless man who was on 500 South Ervay. His name is Ronnie, and the day that I photographed him, he told me that he saw me shooting downtown the day before and he could see light coming out of my eyes. And, you know, that was a year before this exhibition. So when I put the print up and I posted it on Facebook and it went viral, I was contacted by his sister who said “that’s my brother, that’s my brother Ronnie.” And she brought him to the Observe Dallas 2015 launch party. Which was such a treat because I had all the images on the wall. And Ronnie came, and there were about 250 people there for the launch party, and he was a hit! He was a celebrity, everyone was taking pictures with their phones next to his picture on the wall.

When I asked him about how he felt about this, he just smiled and said, “It’s life.” And I thought that was perfect. Because he was right.

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  • Angus Wynne

    A beautiful series dedicated to some of our most invisible yet ubiquitous citizens. Thanks for highlighting this artist and his accomplishment!