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April 10, 2009

Bower captures ‘Soul of Indiana’

While others may overlook the rusted and abandoned artifacts of yesteryear, John Bower sees something special.

Bower is a photographer who, along with his wife, Lynn, publishes books capturing Indiana’s cultural heritage. The books capture in stark black and white the splintered storefronts, defunct movie theaters and dormant factories that occupy the landscape.

John Bower will be giving a presentation, “Capturing the Soul of Indiana—A celebration of our overlooked cultural heritage,” at the Carnegie Public Library Monday at 6:30 p.m. The presentation, conducted with PowerPoint, will last approximately 45 minutes followed by a question-and-answer session.

Betty Norris, an outreach services librarian, arranged for Bower to come to Washington. She said the library has one of his books and she thought it was well-done.

“We thought it (his presentation) would appeal to a lot of people,” Norris said.

Bower, who works out of his home studio in Bloomington, said he likes to chronicle the day-to-day history of the Hoosier state.

“It’s the everyday history of Indiana that I seek out and take pictures of,” the Purdue and Ball State University graduate said. “The photos bring out the energy of places.”

The Bowers have published five books so far through their Studio Indiana specialty publishing company. A sixth book, “Journey’s End,” will focus on transportation in Indiana and will be released this year.

The Bowers claim to have traveled through every Indiana city and town—2,099 by their count—while compiling their books. Bower, 60, remembers passing through Daviess County. He said the statues in Montgomery’s St. Peter’s cemetery are “beautiful.”

Bower’s photographs have been exhibited and presented all over the state. His photos are featured in permanent museum collections at the Indiana State Museum and the South Bend Museum of Art. Bower’s presentation is part of National Library Week. Other activities include National Library Worker’s Day on Tuesday; Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. is the deadline for the “What my public library means to me” essay contest; Foundation Directory Workshop on Thursday from 3 to 4 p.m.; Friday Fun for grades K-6 Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturday, a local Civil War history program from 1 to 2:30 p.m., led by Tom Brummett.

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