Actor Keith Jochim opens photography exhibition in RI and faces Alzheimer’s disease
WARWICK — Actor and photographer Keith Jochim gets excited as he discusses the Oct. 6 opening of a nearly month-long exhibition of his work at the Warwick Public Library. This will be an opportunity to present many of his impressive images to a new audience.
It will also be an opportunity for Jochim to refresh his memory, which was affected by his early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
“That’s how I can remember things,” Jochim, 80, said in an interview. “The photographs remind me of that. These photos will always be there for me.
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Entitled “Turning to the Lens: Meaningful Encounters,” the exhibition showcases Jochim’s wide range of subject matter.
Consider, for example, the people Jochim photographed for the “American Heroes” collection: among them, a mechanic, a merchant, and a farmer.
Or those from the “Men of a Certain Age” collection: a Civil War re-enactor, a man with a cigar, a man labeled “I Can Fix Your TV” and others.
Or the men and women of “My Body as Art”, a collection of photos of tattooed people.
Or the youngsters in “Childhood Wonders,” a collection that captures moods ranging from joy to jest to contemplation.
And, yes, Jochim also photographs animals: check out “Dogs in Cars,” including images titled “Let’s Hang Out” and “Reflecting Freedom.”
A long career in theater and on screen
As a stage actor, Jochim has performed in Minneapolis, St. Louis, San Diego, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Cincinnati and other cities. Rhode Islanders will remember him for the eight years he performed with Providence’s Trinity Repertory Company, appearing in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” , “A Christmas” by Charles Dickens. Carol” and other productions.
Her television and film work includes roles in ‘The Witches of Eastwick’, ‘Mystic Pizza’ and the hit show ‘Law & Order’.
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Jochim told the Journal that his acting matched his lifelong love of photography, saying “when you’re an actor, you have to play a lot of different people, and I’ve always been very interested in other people because that I play other people. And so the best way to see it is to photograph it because I can remember them.
On his travels he said, “You can look at a person who has a tattoo or something and you can look at it honestly, just say ‘god, where did you find that?’ And immediately, we’re together and they’re talking and I’m asking questions. And sometimes people don’t respond and that’s fine. I am so happy to have the opportunity to meet them.
“Ways That Are All New”
Jochim was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2020. In a written statement accompanying the announcement of his exhibit, Jochim wrote, “I have early stage Alzheimer’s. I am still a photographer. This is the first thing you should know about the disease: it takes nothing away from your desire to create, to discover, to express yourself, to fulfill yourself. It doesn’t affect two people the same way; its chronology is as broad or as narrow as thought itself.
“I live in the present, a trait I have been told is not that common. For this reason, I will approach each stage of Alzheimer’s disease with as much enthusiasm and humor as possible. I will experience time and memory in a new way.
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Jochim credits two people for making “Turning Toward the Lens: Meaningful Encounters”: his wife, Linda Golob, and the person Golob calls “my lifelong best friend,” Robynne Limoges, a photographer in London.
“She came up with the idea for the exhibit in June and we all ran with the idea and the production,” Golob said. “His photographic expertise and coaching in photo selection, Photoshop and layout, writing the exhibition catalog copy and exhibition copy made this exhibition and its upcoming opening a success.”
Summarizing his passions, Jochim writes: “My life is a tale; it’s always been about sharing stories. And photographing has always been a process of renewal. In my case right now, access to words and part of memory are affected. But my skills and drive as a photographer remain intact.
“I hope sharing this with you helps you think a little differently about those in your life who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. We need to learn from each other. We need to keep trying to listen to stories that are looking for an audience.
How to see Keith Jochim’s photography
Jochim and Golob will host the opening of ‘Turning Toward the Lens’ from 4-7.30pm on October 6 at the Central Branch of the Warwick Public Library, 600 Sandy Lane, Warwick. The exhibition will continue until October 27 during library opening hours.
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