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Greater Victoria photographer puts the punk back in NYC neighbourhood

Black Press Media employee showcases images shot of the Vancouver punk music scene 45 years ago
Black Press Media photographer Don Denton has a showcase of his work documenting the early punk music scene in Vancouver July 13 to Aug. 13 in New York. (Flyer design by Rich Jacobs)

A Greater Victoria photographer dusts off a series of photos from the early punk days in Vancouver for a New York City showcase this month.

While paying the bills working at a Lower Mainland mill, Don Denton spent his spare time in the late 1970s shooting the small punk music scene.

“It was a very, very small scene at that time,” Denton said. “It was very small, very contained, very supportive.”

Denton left the Lower Mainland to pursue a career in journalism, which moved him around the country for years.

“I was concentrating on the editorial world,” he said. “If I was going to have a career, I needed to get a newspaper job.”

During the last decade in Greater Victoria, he’s slowly returned to the music scene on a semi-regular basis.

Now a longtime career photographer, he teaches at the University of Victoria and works with the magazine division of Black Press Media.

“And I continue to sneak out some evenings to photograph bands,” he said.

Denton boasts an impressive catalogue of after-hours images as well. He’s a hoarder of history and returned occasionally to his plethora of music images taken over decades. He’s shown a series of punk music pics from 1977 to ’79 a couple times before – with small exhibitions in Vancouver (2010) and the next year in Victoria.

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Last summer through the power of social media, he met artist, designer and musician Rich Jacobs while visiting New York. Over lunch, Denton sought advice on photography shows to take in during his trip. One recommendation he followed was a tiny gallery as part of a vintage clothing and more store called The Quality Mending Co. Just as he arrived, a thunderstorm hit and he settled in talking to the shop owner for a while.

They kept in touch.

Slowly, the monthlong show came together. It includes photos of better-known Vancouver acts such as DOA, The Dishrags (out of Saanich actually), The Furies and The Pointed Sticks. The series of 24 images also includes visiting acts, including The Clash, Joey Ramone and The Avengers.

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“It’s exciting that people want to display your work and that there are people interested in seeing it,” Denton said.

For those who find themselves in NYC in the next month, the show opens July 13 at 329 Bowery St. with an artist reception, and closes Aug. 13.

“I find it fascinating people are still interested in photographs of this era that was 45 years ago,” Denton said. “The location is interesting … it’s essentially the heart of the old New York punk scene.”

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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