About the Author
I have lung cancer. Upper right lobe, as big as a baseball. I am not "fighting it valiantly", the usual phrase in obituaries. I take my meds, do what the doctors tell me to do, and observe the process with great curiosity. I am lazy about getting rid of the stuff that gathers, I never became famous or tall. I take great pleasure in having come of age in Detroit during the Vietnam war protests, the sexual revolution, the era of nice drugs, wet darkrooms, and especially the music from Buddy and Jerry Lee through our own Marvin, Smokey, and Aretha; Joplin, Dylan, Garcia, and Hendrix.
At this point a resume no longer seems appropriate. Obituary, for release when needed
Jan Steven Rosenbaum, born in Detroit, Michigan; living and dying in Rockport, Maine.
In a varied career that swirled around photography, Jan was in turns a photojournalist; an artist; a physicist in the areas of digital color and reproduction, optics, and the design of digital-to-analog cameras for medical and graphics use.
He taught at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, Polytechnic University of New York and Maine Media Workshops + College over many years. He loved to learn, spent far too many years at Wayne State University, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Polytechnic University of New York (now part of NYU), received a BFA and (nearly) three masters degrees and was an autodidact with a variety of interests. He agreed with the 15th C. Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus, who almost said “When I have money, I buy books; if there is anything left, I buy food and clothes.” His favorite season was fall, when it was time to buy school supplies and return to campus as either student or teacher. He had too many pairs of shoes.
He spent more than 50 years trying to make thought-provoking photographs with structural and intellectual beauty and was successful often enough to keep on working. He fought against the long-standing paradigms of beautiful subject matter and witless self-expression as suitable grounds for art, but without much success. It was an obsession he enjoyed. He was represented by Caldbeck Gallery in Rockland, Maine, and his work found its way into a few personal and museum collections. He hated making photographs just to please others, and consequently never made a living at it.
He is survived by Dora, with whom he spent more than half his life, and by relatives with whom he had little in common. Born and raised in Detroit, he rarely went back after leaving in 1983. It was too sad to watch it wither away. Jan will be buried simply, shallow enough for insects to easily recycle him back into the universe, deep enough to keep the dogs from digging him up.
At the request of both Jan and Dora, there will be no public service, no gathering to share lame anecdotes. There is only this endeavor, and the wish that you buy yourself flowers and enjoy them, read a book you haven’t had time for, and pay attention, even if it’s just for a day.
Author photo by Dora, Paris, 2006, Epson RD-1
Comments can be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org If I'm still alive, I'll answer
N.B., April 26, 2018: It has come to my attention that several old friends are assuming I am dead, since my obituary has been written and published above. This is not so. I am not dead at the moment, and I promise to let you know when it is imminent. If it isn't here, it isn't true.