Balancing Act: Keith Berr is a City Artist at Work

You fly into Pittsburgh with your camera for a one day commercial photo shoot, but the rest of your equipment— thanks  to the airlines—is on its way to Seattle. Just what do you do? Well, if you’re a member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) like Cleveland artist/ photographer, Keith Berr, you simply call a local member,borrow his  equipment, and are on your way.

Berr has had a life long commitment to Cleveland and gives credit for having developed his skills here in the grand old  days of the Cleveland Ad Agencies and studios. He was one of the early professional artists in the Bradley Building on  West 6th Street who, with the others, helped to convince the City Council and then-president, George Forbes, to give  work/live space status to the building. There was even a roof top barbeque for the visiting dignitaries.

Taking risks and planning ahead are hallmarks of Berr’s thirty plus year career. Keith Berr Studio is located north of 31st  off Superior Avenue in a building designed and built by the artist. Where else could you find a table made from an old  wooden bowling lane, or enough space to drive an automobile in for a photo shoot? Today you will even find a full kitchen, which is used for food shoots and video jobs for Vitamix Corporation of North Olmsted. Berr has also hosted  benefits there, including one for the American Diabetes Society where over 300 people attended. Of course having clients like University Hospitals of Cleveland, Newell Rubbermaid, Global Marketing, and Republic Steel doesn’t just fall  nto your lap. The job of building and maintaining the business is in the capable hands of Keith’s producer/partner, Linda  Barberic who came with a decade of experience from the legendary advert ising fi rm of Liggett /Stashower. When necessary, they bring on assistants.

All work and no play can take its toll on the hardiest and most dedicated, so two months out of the year, Berr takes the  time to explore some of the exotic and challenging locations he has recorded—including the sumptuous and mysterious  Himalayan outpost called Bhutan. In his personal fine art series, “The Sacred Treasures of Thunder Dragon”, a Buddhist priest feeds the cats and birds; dancers in colorful costumes and masks whirl by; and faces old and youthful show the  dignity of the ages. The series won Berr recognition as one of the top 20 photographers in a global competition by ASMP.

At present a series of Berr’s colorful, floral works blooms in the gallery at the Plain Dealer. On view through July 7, 2012,  the exhibit explores the textural detail of each bloom in microscopic detail. Also, check out his new blog (keithberrblog),  for news of Keith Berr Studios projects, art events, great inspirations and tips.