We've Always been

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Sidebar

19
Tue, Oct

Artists
Typography

Door Counties Fine Art Photographer, Kevin O'Donnell, will be on hand Thursday October 21 in the Art Gallery on the second floor to show his photography to iBAM! Concert attendees, and back again on Friday October 22 before and during the Cocktail Hour (7pm) and will be attending the Gala Awards Dinner. On Saturday he will man the art gallery from noon until 5pm or even later so that attendees can view his original photography of Door County.


When Irish-American folk singer-songwriter and author Kevin O’Donnell, 66, said goodbye to Chicago four years ago in favor of a lakeside home in Door County, Wisconsin, he had a plan. “It was never my intention to leave behind nearly a half-century of artistic endeavor to merely fade-to-black like the spectacular sunsets over the bay of Green Bay.” He said.  He convinced his wife, Colleen,  they should move to “the quiet side” of the peninsula where they could watch the sun rise out of the water every day.  “Anyone can view a sunset,” He claims. “That’s easy. But sunrises? Now that takes effort. So, every day we witness a new beginning, and start each day reminding ourselves how fortunate we are to live here. “Every day is a rebirth.” He stated.

Rebirth indeed. Since “retiring” O’Donnell has, parlayed his past successes as a story-teller into another genre: fine art photography - with the people and places of Door County frequently featured as his subjects. In just a few short years he has taken his place as one of the area’s most preeminent and respected photographers in an arts community loaded with them.

O’Donnell will be on-hand to exhibit about 30 framed pieces of his award-winning Door County photography in a one-man show at the annual iBAM Celebration of Irish Culture, taking place Saturday, October 23, in the 2nd floor Art Gallery of the Irish-American Heritage Center.  

His works will feature selected nightscape images (combining the Milky Way and other celestial wonders with Earth-bound foreground features), a lighthouse series - mostly of the Great Lakes region, images from his forthcoming book (his third), Behind The Door - a unique collection of photographs and essays on the diversity of the Door Peninsula, and a number of prints from his intriguing “I AM” project - a developing gallery of story-portraits with accompanying text and testimony submitted by the individuals on how they perceive themselves - and how they would prefer the world to perceive them.  

O’Donnell reminisces: “When I think about it, I’ve always been a storyteller and this is just another chapter in that process. Going back to my early days in Chicago, I started my creative career in Irish music as a singer and lyricist, moved on to writing poetry and short stories - eventually authoring and publishing two books. I then got involved with non-equity live theater at the Racine Theatre Guild for a number of years.” More recently (2012), O’Donnell returned to the recording studio for an ambitious solo album, Deep Is The Well, produced by Maurice Lennon (Stockton’s Wing). The themed album features many of Chicago’s finest Irish musicians behind a unique, yet seemingly familiar collection of songs written and performed by O’Donnell. It, along with its comprehensive interactive website deepisthewell.com relates the fictitious (though historically accurate) account of immigration where upon multiple descendants of a 19th century Irish family retell their 170-year struggles in America as they strive to achieve the American Dream. It is considered by many a holistic and landmark effort.

O’Donnell admits, “With the culmination of all that experience, I now find myself living in one of the most beautiful places on the planet relating stories through still photography and a niche YouTube channel that has garnered nearly 1,000 subscribers and receives more than 10,000 views per month. Who knew?” He asked.

As a “blow-in” (outsider) to the thriving native Door County art community, O’Donnell said he has been able to capture a different perspective of his subjects. John Nelson, owner of Door Guide Publishing in Sister Bay (and who grew up on Chicago’s northwest side), has used many of O’Donnell’s photographs in his guide books on Door County. “Kevin has a unique ability to capture the essence of the peninsula’s culture, people, history, and landscape in a way other photographers somehow miss. I really like his stuff. I just wish he would bring me more of it.”

True to form, O’Donnell confesses to producing work at a leisurely pace and as it turns out publishers and galleries are eager for that sort of thing. Nelson concluded, “After all, how many pictures of Cave Point does one really need?”

O’Donnell continues, “I’m just up here taking photographs for my own edification, really. It’s great therapy and it fulfills my never-ending desire to be creative and I was content with that. But early on, Colleen encouraged me to enter a few of my photos in the state-wide Wisconsin Great Waters Photography and Writing Project sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. One of my photos was selected as the cover for their 2019-2020 calendar. Over 80,000 copies were distributed at the State Fair and to visitors at every State Park. Now I have publishers calling me for licensing, (including Irish American News), and there’s a book deal in the works. My framed images are on display in high-end restaurants up the peninsula and the only piece I ever submitted to a juried exhibit at the prestigious Hardy Gallery in Ephraim, was not only accepted, but sold to a collector in California.

His YouTube channel (Kevin O’Donnell Behind the Door), is part cultural vlog, part photo workshop, and part history lesson. He entertains and educates as he talks to camera taking his viewers on his rambles throughout the county; planning, scouting, and executing his photographs. “It’s like ‘ride-along’ storytelling!” He quips. “Time consuming? Yes.” (admitting that each minute of final video requires about 1 hour of editing), “but it’s very rewarding. I love it! I can shape the story as I go - often using 4 cameras at once combining not only video, but stereo audio, drone footage, creating sound design, and writing and recording voice-over. Each episode is its own story,” He adds. O’Donnell has published nearly 50 episodes of Behind The Door to date and many of the images taken on those adventures will be on display at his iBAM exhibition.

O’Donnell admits he’s surprised at this later-in-life success and prefers to maintain a low-key lifestyle. “The Door County pace and long winters take some getting used to. It’s not for everyone.” He said.
“I often field questions from friends and relatives as to what the winters are like here? In a word,” He stated, “quiet.” And to be honest, no more severe than a Chicago winter, just longer. But that affords me the time to focus on and improve my storytelling skills. I recently had a 500 square foot studio built that looks out on to Lake Michigan - a space I use exclusively for my writing, my music, my photography, and now, my YouTube channel. It has proven to be like Miracle Grow® for my creative spirit. I am eager to return to Chicago and honored by the invitation of the IAHC to exhibit the latest in my life-long story-telling saga.

Bio
Kevin O'Donnell is an award-winning author and photographer, YouTube content creator, and master story-teller. He moved to Door County in 2017 upon retiring from a thirty-seven year career as a packaging engineer in the pharmaceutical industry. His years of international travel during that time nurtured his interest in photography.

Kevin’s photographs have been featured in numerous publications; most recently: Wisconsin’s Great Waterways Calendar, The Door County GO Guide, and the cover of Irish American News.

Over the past four years Kevin has been working on a collection of photographs and essays capturing the unique cultural, social, economic, historic, and natural diversity of the Door peninsula. The “Behind The Door” book is scheduled for publication in 2022.

In support of that project Kevin launched a YouTube channel late in 2021. “Kevin O’Donnell Behind The Door” is part vlog, part photographer’s workshop, and part history lesson. Each episode weaves a story of the diverse richness and beauty of the Door peninsula; “Things well beyond Highways 42 and 57 - and the reach of most tourists and visitors. It’s more about the year-rounders, the traditions, the culture, the disappearing Door.” He says.“Think: Norbert Blei, camera in hand, meets National Geographic.”
Door County’s unique maritime history and relationship with the iron ore boats are a particular favorite and what first drew him to the area.

Artist’s Statement
Subjects hold secrets. Whether portraiture, landscapes, architecture, or industrial, I am challenged and intrigued by the stories they project. I often return multiple times to a subject until I am satisfied that I have visually related that story in a unique and visceral way.

My goal is not to capture a memory, but a moment. I’m happy to leave the picture post card photography to others

List your Irish authored Books

SUBSCRIBE to IAN Today

Choose

Advertise

Paying For
Instructions

October IAN Linked

September 2021 Digital Edition

Irish Ann

Advertising Rates 2021

Shop Irish!

ARTIST
Bryan Boylan
ASSISTED LIVING
Aishling Companion Homecare
Destiny Senior Care

ATTORNEY
Dwyer and Coogan
GilMartin Legal
Healy Law
Lynch , Thomas 708-598-5999
McEntee Law Group
Miller & McGing Law Firm 773-467-8000
Murphy & Smith Ltd
Shannon Law Group
BAGPIPERS & DRUM CLASSES

Chicalba Bagpiping

BANKS
First National Bank of Brookfield

Marquette National Bank
BANQUETS
Gaelic Park
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
BEAUTY SALONS
Appearances Pk Ridge
 847-825-7615
Hair by O'Hara & Friends-Hometown
BOOKS - IRISH
TheIrishBookClub.com
BRICK REPAIR/REPLACEMENT
Shamrock Tuckpointing
CARPET CLEANER
Sheila's Carpet Shampooligans
CATERERS
Harrington's Catering & Deli
Unforgettable Edibles
CHARITABLE ORG

Mercy Home
IrishCommunityServices
CAULKING & SEALING
Shamrock Tuckpointing
CHIMNEY REPAIR

Shamrock Tuckpointing

CHOIR
Irish Heritage Singers
COTTAGE RENTAL
Dingle Cottage: 312-399-8793
Gurtenard Hse - Listowel Co Kerry
CRUISES

Phil Coulter Tranquility Cruise
CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS

Chicago Gaelic Park

iBAM!
Ireland Network Chicago
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
Irish Am Society Co Will
Irish Am Unity Conference
Irish Heritage Singers
DANCE SCHOOLS

McNulty School of Dance
Trinity Irish Dance
ENTERTAINERS
Cahal Dunne
Chicalba Bagpiping
Paddy Homan
The Larkin Brothers
Catherine O'Connell
Joe McShane
Whiskey Mick Irish Rock
FESTIVALS

Arlington Heights
Dublin

IAHC
Indianapolis
Kansas City
Milwaukee
Naperville
FINANCIAL PLANNER

Corrigan Financial
FLORIST

Garland Flowers
FUNERAL HOMES

Gibbon's Funeral Homes
Roberty J Sheehy & Sons

GAELIC YOUTH FOOTBALL
773-719-2847 Jerry
GARBAGE REMOVAL
Flood Brothers Disposal
GOLF COURSES
Palos Golf
GRAPHIC DESIGN

Laura Coyle 773-343-7268
Meghan Lee Graphic Design
GROCERIES/MEAT

Winston's
HEARING SPECIALIST
Mel Dermody
HOTELS/RESTAURANTS/PUBS

Clarke Hotel & Five Points Pub
County Clare Inn - Milwaukee
Ennis Inn & Pub
Irish Cottage Galena 1 866 CU-IRISH
St. Brendan's Inn
HUMAN RESOURCE CONSULTANT
James Fitzgerald
IMMIGRATION SERVICES

IrishCommunityServices
IMPORT SHOPS
Ann's Irish Gifts

Celtica Gifts 773-784-7712
Donegal Imports
Gaelic Imports
Irish Shop
INSURANCE

American Family-Joan McKee
Riordan Insurance
JEWELERS

H. Watson
MUSIC SCHOOLS
Chgo Academy of Piping/Drumming
Irish Music School of Chgo
MYSTERY SHOPPER
Cathy Cooney-Millar 224-944-9654

PARTY PLANNERS
That Special Event

PENNY WHISTLES
Michael Burke
PHOTOGRAPH CAPTURING
Memoirs for Me
PHYSICAL THERAPY
SPORTS-ORTHOPEDIC
Athletex
PLASTERING

William McNulty & Son
708-386-2951
PUB/RESTAURANT RECRUITER
Cathy Cooney-Millar
PUBS & RESTAURANTS

Aishling on the Lough - Kenosha WI
Ashford House
The Celtic Knot
Chief O'Neill's
Clancy's Pizza Pub
Clarke Hotel - Waukesha WI
Corcorans
County Clare Inn - Milwaukee WI
Emerald Loop
Ennis Inn & Pub - De Pere WI
Fifth Province
Fiddler's Hearth
The Galway Arms
James Joyce Irish Pub
Johnny's Kitchen & Tap
Lizzie McNeill's
Mickey Finn's Brewery
Mystic Rogue Pub/Restaurant
Peggy Kinnanes
Red Apple Buffet
Six Penny Bit
St. Brendan's Inn - Green Bay WI
Vaughan's Pub

REALTORS
JSheehan Group
Koenig & Strey
Mary Ellen Considine  773-769-2500
RESTAURANT/HOSPITALITY RECRUITER
Cathy Cooney-Millar 224-944-9654
SPORTS CLUBS

Chgo Celtic Soccer Club
stbrigids.chicago.gaa.ie
ST PATRICK'S DAY
St Patrick's Day Parade
SWEATERS

Anne's Irish Knits
TABLE RUNNERS
All 32 Counties
TELEVISION-CABLE

Irish Journal 708-366-4665
THEATRE
Late Nite Catechism
TOURIST ATTRACTION
Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home
TRAVEL /TOURS

Gadabout Travel
Jem Tours_Mary Pat Flanagan
TUCKPOINTING
Shamrock Tuckpointing
VACATION RENTALS
Dingle Cottage
Cork - Cottage from $450 weekly
Don at 608-274-1180
WASTE REMOVAL
Flood Brothers Disposal
WEDDING PLANNER
That Special Event

WEDDING VENUES
Gaelic Park
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
Palos Country Club
WOOD FLOOR SPECIALIST
The Sexton Group