"Schiller Park Across Time," the book the Friends of Schiller published in celebration of the park's 150th anniversary, is as beautiful as any arts book you ever have perused.
With lots of images and very few words, Larry Hamill's photographs lead the reader through a story with "chapters" that include family portraits, Deadheaders at work, historic trees in all seasons and a car being fished out of the pond.
Hamill's studio has been on Deshler Avenue for more than 40 years, and I have known him for half that time. He always was such a great sport about organizing our German Village family portraits, and I loved having him turn up every year with his new calendar poster placing the Columbus skyline in some exotic location.
But as I worked on "Schiller Park Across Time" for 18 months (and considered renaming it "Schiller Park Across Eons"), I learned a great deal more about him. He is a study in both generosity and innovation.
I knew from the earliest concept of a coffee-table book that he would be a tremendous resource for photographs of the park.
I didn't realize how heavy my lean would be, how long I would pore over the inventory of photographs I had collected, identifying holes that needed to be filled or what was involved in photographing artwork for publication.
Hamill dug into his archives, made himself available to shoot paintings -- some with still-wet paint -- and continued to photograph the park while the project was underway. The photograph on the dust jacket was taken last summer on a windy day that lured him out of his studio to try to capture the motion.
There are two pictures in the book that have a backstory I don't want you to miss.
Edmund Kuehn, the remarkable artist from German Village, painted a ginormous canvas in 1956 of the Schiller monument, a dog walker and children fishing. Not just any wall can take a 72-by-92-inch piece of art, but Kuehn had a longtime collector who had just the spot.
Charles Penzone and his wife have enjoyed having the painting in their Delaware home for many years and were happy to let us include it in the book.
Their entryway has ceilings a cathedral would envy, so Hamill positioned himself on the skywalk and had a helper hold a chandelier out of the way with a 10-foot pole, while he managed to frame and light the painting for a perfect shot. The Penzones' generosity, Hamill's talent for finding just the right angle and the strength of the arm that held that chandelier for a very long stretch of time all made the painting on page 103 possible ... and I captured the circus-like endeavor and included it on page 102.
On page 5, at the front of the book, two little girls are holding their teddy bears with the park's swan house in the background. They are Hamill's mother and aunt. His grandfather took the picture in 1916 and Hamill took the image from the original glass slide and provided it to us in a format that maintained the sharp resolution. I so want to whisper in his mother's ear, "Wait until you see the lovely man you'll raise some day."
"Schiller Park Across Time" is a portfolio of Hamill's work and a testimony to his family's engagement in our community over the last 101 years. The book is available at the German Village Meeting Haus and Caskey Cleaning Co.
Katharine Moore is executive director of the Jefferson Avenue Center.