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Malibu Artist, 71, Who Lost Life’s Work in So-Cal Fires To Release Long-Awaited Book of His Photography

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LOS ANGELES, CA (February 17, 2014) – Billy Blake is 71. He knows he's not the typical demographic for kickstarter. He is much older, not a techie, does not play video games, and is not a diehard fan of the latest gadgetry. But he is an artist – a fine art photographer - with a creative project for which he needs funding assistance.
He survived a raging fire a few years back which destroyed thousands of film negatives not yet digitized, and has turned that tragedy into resolve. He believes that with enough dedication and hard work, any obstacle can be overcome.

So he spent 5 years since the fire re-creating lost photos, and will now publish his first-ever book of photography entitled IMAGES … From the Ashes. Galleries familiar with his work have signed on to host month-long featured exhibitions of photos from the book. To help him afford it all, he's launched his kickstarter project.
 
Blake made a name for himself as a young publisher in NY, when he founded Millimeter magazine, which he built impressively and sold in 1985. He began producing films starring Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Mira Sorvino, and others. He was among the first to buy film rights to song titles – The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia became a film starring a hot young actress named Kristy McNichol, and Rhinestone Cowboy was shortened to Rhinestone and starredSylevester Stallone singing country music opposite Dolly Parton. 
 
"That one did not get the greatest reviews," laughed Blake. "One critic said 'I saw it on an airplane and walked out'". 
 
But photography was always Blake's greatest passion. His work has been featured in public gallery exhibitions on both coasts, hangs privately on some very impressive walls, and five pieces from his architecturally themed "Studies in Light" series were recently accepted for display at Santa Monica's prestigious Bergamot Station. 
 
Friends and peers have long urged him to compile a book. In 2008, at age 66, he dedicated the basement of his Malibu Coast home to the task of digitizing old negatives. 
 
A few months later, he awoke with a start. His house was on fire. He woke up Peggy, she grabbed the dog, and they opened the front door, ran through the smoke, and never came back. Nothing in the house survived, the basement was no more, and the hard drives were melted. That morning, three PCH homes burned to the ground. 
 
His insurance had lapsed, so the loss was also financially life-changing. But to Blake, it was the permanent loss of the early decades of his work that mattered. "It was like losing a part of me," he recalls. "But I am thankful I could channel the despair into resolve, and that's what the book is about."  
 
IMAGES ... From the Ashes contains the photography of Billy Blake. The 112 page book features "re-creations" of his favorite pre-digital photos that were forever destroyed. With painstaking effort, Blake re-captured their essence, and the book tells the story of each. The 9 x 12, horizontal, hard cover coffee table book will be printed on high quality stock. Its sections (or genres) will include Studies in Light, Reflections, and Abstracts. Each section begins with a different re-creation, along with explanatory text, and other photos consistent with the genre. 
 
"Blake's talent is undeniable", says Bob Ore, owner of BOA Gallery in West Hollywood, who will host the debut exhibition. "But I also see this as testimony to human perseverance."  
 
"The fire showed me there can be a futility to our existence," opines Blake. "But if we give it a chance, our human spirit can be indomitable in the face of that futility. I hope to inspire others by bringing it full circle – from devastation to salvation."
 
Blake has turned to kickstarter to help him finance what he considers the most important project of his life. He hopes to raise funds to help him offset costs of publishing and producing oversized prints for the gallery exhibitions. His kickstarter project is at http://kck.st/1kTt1qF.
 
Blake resides in Santa Monica with Peggy and their dog Chance, who was rescued from the fire. He is available for interviews. The book's website is www.imagesfromtheashes.com. ;

 

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