UW-Stout retiree Mary Riordan found herself with hundreds of her late husband Dan Riordan’s photographs and knew they needed to find new homes.
“I think a photo that is not being looked at is lonesome,” said Riordan, who retired in 2005 as the director of the Multicultural Student Services Center. “I want people to take them home, put them up and look at them and just enjoy them.”
About 300 of Dan’s photo prints will be sold to benefit Bridge to Hope from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Barrel Room, 320 Main St. E., in an event entitled “One More Gift from Dan.”
At 6:30 p.m. nine framed large prints will be auctioned for the agency that helps victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking. The minimum donation for an unframed print is $10, with only cash and checks being accepted. The prints range in size, starting at 8-by-10 inches.
Dan retired in 2010 after 37 years at UW-Stout. He taught English; helped launch the university’s technical communication program, now professional communication and emerging media; and directed the Nakatani Teaching and Learning Center. He died from cancer in April 2017.
His photos range from nature to buildings and trips he took. Mary particularly enjoys his close-up nature pictures depicting plants and flowers. “He just loved finding images,” she said. “He would be walking, and he said something would say to him, ‘Take me, take me.’ His photos really change the way you look at the world. I can’t capture pictures the way he could. He would catch an interesting angle, and the photo would tell a story.”
In 2015-16 for 366 days straight, Dan captured a moment in time each day after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Most of the photos were taken on routes from his house, in Menomonie’s Grandview Heights neighborhoods overlooking Lake Menomin and to Marketplace Foods in north Menomonie to buy the morning newspaper. Each day he posted a photo on Facebook. Prints from photos taken for that project will be part of the sale.
Dan’s interest in photography started at age 10 when he first owned an Eastman Kodak Brownie camera. While spending a summer in Montana at a mountain resort when he was 21, he bought an Argus camera for $10 from a drifter and became a self-taught photographer. In later years he used an older Canon 7D model and an iPhone.
Mary decided to give the prints to a nonprofit group to sell. A friend, Pat Reisinger, a retired UW-Stout assistant chancellor for University Advancement who is working on the $750,000 capital campaign for Bridge to Hope to pay off the purchase and remodeling of a new site by the end of this year, suggested helping that group.
Mary agreed, knowing Dan would agree with her. “He would be thrilled with it,” she added.
Naomi Cummings, executive director of Bridge to Hope, is thrilled the photographs will be available for people to buy and enjoy. “It’s such an amazing gift from Dan,” Cummings said. “He was a wonderful man who cared about his community and was very talented.”
Bridge to Hope is at 2110 Fourth Ave. The shelter has nine bedrooms, two kitchens, two community rooms, six handicapped-accessible bathrooms and two children’s playrooms. It also has an outside playground area for children and outside kennels for animals. Last year Bridge to Hope served 435 people, compared with 30 that the organization helped when it first opened in 1982, Cummings said.
When he talked about his 366-day project, Dan said that like the students he once taught he learned from his experience. “I saw things that I didn’t see before; my eyes opened up,” he said. “The challenge makes you grow.”
Mary Riordan looks through some of Dan Riordan’s photo prints that will be sold Dec. 11 to benefit the Bridge to Hope in Menomonie.
Dan Riordan, an amateur photographer, taught and was an administrator at UW-Stout for 37 years. He died in 2017.
An oak leaf nestled in a pine tree was captured by photographer Dan Riordan.
A frosty pine bough caught the eye of Dan Riordan.