The Portland Photography Exhibit

In April 2006, Ken Cheppaikode, who runs both the Green Noise record store in Portland and the seminal label Dirtnap Records, graciously allowed David Ensminger to curate a series of photos from Left of the Dial magazine that reflect and embody the images in the Center for Punk Arts collection. The show featured photos by Dixon Coulbourn, keen-eyed Texas photography (RIP) and editor for Idletime fanzine, and Ben Desoto, a sizzling and sharp photographer for the Houston Chronicle, whose obscure 1980’s punk photos, including totemic mid-1980’s images of the Ramones, with Ritchie on drums (see far-left section of photo below), were found packed away in a filing cabinet. In addition, Ensminger was able to show two decades worth of his own modest photography, including intimate shots like SNFU (from Edmonton, Canada) relaxing after a gig in a friend’s basement, and photos from other Left of the Dial contributors.

Most of these images existed only in our digital archive or on slides, so Ensminger used a laser printer and hung them with black cardstock for each backdrop, using the mishmash of original store posters and flyers already on the wall as a kind of robust, colorful, and textured wallpaper. This, way, he intended to preserve the notion that these photos do not represent “precious” objects but another layer of vivid documentary representations within a wide swath/array of synergetic images. To an outsider unfamiliar to the style, the effect might have seemed like a chaotic blend, but to someone familiar with looking at telephone poles, kiosks, and pegboards “littered” with layers of punk images, such as stickers, fliers, and other ephemera, it simply made rock’n’roll sense. Note: Some of these DeSoto photos were later published in the Jan. 2007 issue of Maximum Rock’n’Roll, accompanying Ensminger’s article about Randy “Biscuit” Turner of the Big Boys.

Interesting note. Two noteworthy “old school” community members visited the opening of the show, including John Hartung, one of the managers of Rebel Skates, a longtime Portland skateboard company/institution, who later donated large fliers to the collection, and Colin Sears, drummer extraordinaire of Dag Nasty, Alloy, and the Marshes, among others. In addition, although Cheppaikode has lived in both San Francisco and Seattle, he grew up right north of David Ensminger in Madison, WI. In fact, both of them attended some of the very same DIY punk shows back in the late 1980s, like gritty Rockford, IL hardcore pioneers Bludgeoned Nun, before Cheppaikode went West where he stumbled upon the second wave of Lookout Records bands like Filth and Blatz and later worked for Mordam Distribution before starting up his own label and releasing 70 records, including the critically-lauded Epoxies, Exploding Hearts, Briefs, and Marked Men, among many others.

For an interviw with the founder of Dirtnap records, please click here:

Or, to read a profile of Rebel Skates, click here:


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