An interview with the Electric City

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011


Writer and photographer Dale Wilsey Jr. loves Tunkhannock. It’s more than just his hometown, and more than the place his ancestors settled in so many years ago. To him, Tunkhannock is inspiration. His roots in this lovely Wyoming County region are evident in his work that he takes great care to perfect. Wilsey’s subject matter is as varied as his interests and perhaps even as varied as the jobs he’s held over the years. He’s done everything from working in a stone quarry to a bustling newsroom. Influenced by Hemingway, Bukowski, John Fante, Faulkner, Ginsberg and Rilke, Wilsey loves to write and has been published on several occasions, including in the Boston Literary Magazine. He participates in a writers’ group every Thursday at the Dietrich Theater, and has aspirations to write a novel. Most immediately, though, he is compiling his best photographs for a benefit show for the Dietrich Theater on Friday, Oct. 7, at the Scranton Cultural Center.  A place that is close to his heart, the Dietrich Theater, sustained damage from the recent flood. And while the theater is open thanks to the efforts of committed volunteers and staff members, funds are needed for more repairs.  Without hesitation, he is ready to help. Meet artist Dale Wilsey, Jr…

How did you become interested in photography?
I've been into photography for a long time. My father got me into it. I wasn't even a teenager yet when he started taking pictures and he got me interested in it, and probably around age 16, he gave me one of his old Nikons and I started shooting with that and experimenting. That was about the time I really started getting into the arts. I started meeting more people in the area, and I had more of a creative outlet. I started traveling, too, especially at 16 because I got my driver's license, and I went all over taking photos.

At that point, what was your subject matter?
Very early on it was all sorts of things. I never really had one focus. There was a stint where I just liked to go around and take pictures of architecture and then there were basic landscapes - things my father was into and anything from Tunkhannock.

Tunkhannock is so beautiful.
It really is, and I've grown to appreciate it so much more over the past five or six years. It's really grown on me and it's something I appreciate more and more as I grow older. When I was young, I wanted to get out. I was in Wilkes-Barre every weekend when I was in high school, going to punk shows and driving all over and wanting to just go - and now I find peace in Tunkhannock, and a lot of inspiration.

Funny how your perspective changes with time-
It definitely does. My entire father's side of the family has lived in Tunkhannock for eons.They came over here through New England, came down and plopped into a little village called Eatonville right outside of Tunkhannock. That's where my father grew up and I lived close to my grandmother's house when I was young and we sort of grew up there and we never really moved too far away from Tunkhannock. I'm used to Wyoming County and the valley and the river and the woods. I've been all over, and it's something that I really love.

It must have been difficult to see all the flood damage in your hometown. Did this inspire your work?
I did write a three-piece blog entry about my experience, not really too in depth about any particular portion of the flooding or anything, but I did mention that a bit. I'll probably do more with it as it sinks in. It usually takes me a while to process and get things out on the pages. I roll things around in my head for a while before I actually write about them. I usually have a couple ideas rolling around up there (laughs) but it comes out eventually.

Tell me about your show coming up at the Scranton Cultural Center. Can we expect to see a lot of scenes from Tunkhannock?
You'll see Tunkhannock shots, and you'll see modeling shots that I've done with people. I grew up a "gear head" around my father, so you'll see some shots of older cars, but it really goes all over - from architecture to humans to everything. I'm putting all my work up for sale and everything that I make is going straight to the Dietrich. I figured maybe a mixed bag would be better for this show because I can sell all sorts of photos to all sorts of people. I'm really hoping we can make some money for them. One of the first things Hildy (Morgan) told me was that the theater didn't have flood insurance. The biggest thing they lost is the heating and air conditioning in the old section of the building because it was downstairs. And that was one thing they were looking at renovating and updating, but it never came about. So I'm really happy to try to help out.

Do you remember when the Dietrich first opened?
Yes, I was there when we started cleaning it out. In high school, a class of mine walked down there and we started pulling out all the old stuff. And I remember back when it was closed and boarded up and we walked in and it was really cool to see. I could only imagine what it was like back in the day, back when it was first built. And I loved it, just looking at it and knowing it was going to be up and running again. I thought it was something really great to come to my town. That's when my town started really growing up a little bit from what it used to be and it was great. So I was there when they started it and I guess this is giving back a little, and I'm happy to do it. It's one of the best buildings in Tunkhannock and one of the best things to come to Tunkhannock.

-julie imel

Photographs by Dale Wilsey Jr. will be on display at the Scranton Cultural Center on the evening of Oct. 7, and all proceeds from sales at the show will benefit the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock. For more information, visit www.scrantonculturalcenter.org.
The original article can be found here.

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