Facebook Twitter

3 YEARS OF PATIENCE PAYS OFF WITH PHOTO DISPLAY IN PRAGUE

SHARE 3 YEARS OF PATIENCE PAYS OFF WITH PHOTO DISPLAY IN PRAGUE

After three years of trying, Utah photographer George Janechek will finally get to show his photographs in Eastern Europe.

He was scheduled to leave Wednesday morning for Czechoslovakia. His one-man show is scheduled for Oct. 25-Nov. 1 in the Fotochema Exhibition Hall in Prague.Janechek, who was born in New York of Czechoslovakian parents, said he's kept close ties with relatives in his parents' homeland and has hoped for years to be able to take them a show.

"I was conceived in Czechoslovakia and smuggled here," he said. "Something that I've always wanted to do was bring something there for them."

Janechek's interest started during a 1986 visit when he stopped at the gallery and met the director. Director Karel Jirkal suggested a show but said he couldn't petition for an exhibition. Instead, he said Janechek would have to go through regular government channels for authorization.

"Czechoslovakia isn't Yugoslavia or Poland," Janecek said. "The government prides itself on being more bureaucratic than the Russians, and you have to work with that. So I started writing letters."

Authorities at the American Embassy in Prague suggested the photographer contact the Czech embassy in Washington when he returned to Utah.

Valdimir Huska, first secretary of the embassy of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, liked the photographs. He gave the go-ahead to the American Embassy in Prague to forward everything he would be exhibiting to the Cultural Ministry there in April 1987.

In December, Janecek went to Washington to meet with Huska, a man from the United States Information Agency and someone from a museum in Prague.

Janecek kept writing letters and forwarding every letter he wrote to everyone else. Huska finally agreed to the show, as did the Cultural Ministry in Prague.

Janecek made another trip to Czechoslovakia in September 1988. He discovered he had accumulated so much paperwork that "since no one had so far disapproved, they approved it." But he didn't get a final date for the show until June of this year.

Janecek's work has undergone a major change of direction since negotiations for the Prague show started. For 20 years his photographs had focused on fine art themes. Since then, he said, he's become more focused on vanishing cultures.

His work with the Oral History Institute resulted in the book "The Other Utahns: A Photographic Portfolio," which is a cross-section of Utah's ethnic minorities.

One work in progress includes "Copper Canyon Country," which explores the effect of the railway on northern Mexico and its people. It features the Tarahumara Indians, who have lived in caves for several thousand years.

"Bringing Indians to Czechoslovakia is special," he said. "Indians have always had a special meaning. It's sort of a fascination with Europeans. It's foreign to their culture . . . and they don't have anything to compare it to."