In Celebration of Jack Whitehead

In Celebration of Jack Whitehead

(Crystal A. Proxmire)

AJ O’Neil and Jon Strand looked proudly at the gigantic paintings of a forest hanging in the front window of AJ’s Music Café (240 W. 9 Mile) and remembered their long-time friend Jack Whitehead.

Whitehead was a local artist and a darn good friend, according to Strand and O’Neil.  The man spent 40 years as a successful fashion and automotive photographer before kidney disease and a life of dialysis brought his career to a screeching halt.  After months of struggling with illness and the ever-changing Michigan climate, Whitehead went to the calm warm air of Florida, where he took to paining nature scenes.  He created over 300 paintings in his last years alive.

Just 4 UsNow the work has returned to Michigan as O’Neil and other friends have come up with the perfect outlet for the paintings – a benefit showcasing of the work in the Pittman-Puckett Gallery inside Affirmations (290 W. 9 Mile).  Many of Whitehead’s paintings will be available for sale at a low cost, with the money being used to help support the LGBT community center.

“Jack would want to see that his work is going towards a good cause,” O’Neil said.  “He passed away New Year’s Day 2009 and we came into all these paintings, and thought how can we use this for the most good?  And also how can we pay our respects.”

Strand credits Whitehead with giving him confidence when he was younger.  “He had offered me a job in the advertising company where he worked, and as soon as he saw me he said that I just had to be a model,” Strand says.  “Jack had this photography studio on Gratiot that was an old theater.  It was really neat place, and a lot of fun.  But Jack was always serious about his work.  He accomplished a lot with his life – both in photography and as a painter.”

The exhibit In Memory of Jack Whitehead opens at 7pm on October 1, 2010 at the Pittman-Puckett Gallery inside Affirmations at 290 W. 9 Mile.  There will also be music by Judy Adams and a reception hosted by Holiday Market of Royal Oak.

For more information go to www.goaffirmations.org.

Thank you to Just 4 Us (211 W. 9 Mile), who is the annual sponsor of our LGBT News Section.  Just 4 Us has many fun gifts and novelties, especially with a gay theme. We are still looking for a sponsor for our Art News.  For more information on sponsoring any of our sections go to: http://oaklandcounty115.com/2010/09/29/become-a-sponsor-of-the-ferndale-115-news/.

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