20/20 Tacoma In Images and Verse

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This is a project from back in 2010… a collaboration with a group of 20 poets.  The project culminated in an exhibit and public reading at the Tacoma Art Museum.

Below is the intro to the small book of the project.

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.    T. S. Eliot

I have to admit, I’ve never been a big poetry fan.  So, it seems rather odd that at this point in life I should suddenly have an interest in it and undertake a project of this magnitude.   Perhaps it is because poetry and photography share a similar ethos and aesthetic, a kinship grounded in the simplicity of expression. If a picture is worth a thousand words, it is the poem’s elegant economy of language which draws out attention leaving us spellbound.   Photography too communicates in ways we don’t always fully understand. Who has not stood in awe and wonder while gazing at the work of Cartier-Bresson, Steichen, Curtis or Adams? In 20/20 we bring both together and the results do not disappoint.

I first became acquainted with Michael Magee, my collaborator on 20/20, after Michael wrote several poems based on my photos in a poetry contest some years ago.   It is hard to explain the sudden bond I felt with him and another participant, poet Brian Desmond (a poet in 20/20). Suffice to say that the experience had a profound and lasting impact on all my work since.  

20/20 has been a similar experience.  We invited a group of poets to write poems based on a collection of my Tacoma work to culminate in a show and reading.  During our editing sessions, I would often ask Michael to read the poems out loud. He is a terrific poet and an excellent reader of poetry.  To suddenly discover rhythm and new story emerge from my work is exhilarating. It is one thing to have someone offer kind words of praise about a photo but quite a different matter to hear praise arise obliquely from the poet’s voice and hand.

I am humbled and inspired by the work of these gifted poets.  I thank them for their generous contribution to this project and to my growth as an artist.

Peter Serko

November 2010



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To create one’s own world takes courage  – Georgia O’Keeffe


In 1995 I created the graphic to the left for a web-based project called “Webtales: An Evolving Tale of Cyberspace”.   My idea was to create a story/tale written solely online by anyone who wanted to contribute.  I started Webtales with two friends, Robin and Stephen, whom I met through my brother David.  Both toured internationally with David in the musical  A Chorus Line in 1986-87.  Robin was a “dresser” for the show and Stephen played the character Michael.  We called ourselves Dancing Man Productions, named in honor of David, that’s him in the logo graphic below.


A little perspective on the state of the web in 1995:

The term “blog”, short for “weblog” didn’t even exist yet in 1995.  Amazon.com, billing itself as the “biggest bookstore on earth”, had just sold its first book. Larry Page and Sergey Brin were graduate students at Stanford and had yet to hatch their plan for web search domination. Netscape Navigator 1 ruled the web as the “browser wars” were about to commence.  The jpg image standard had just been approved. Html 2.0 revolutionized web design permitting webpage layout control using tables.  CompuServe, America Online, and Prodigy offered easy online access to the masses ushering in a new type of postal junk mail: AOL compact disks. Phone line Internet dial-up using a modem was the only way to connect to the web for home users at painfully slow speeds (28.8 kbps).

Listen to a modem dialing

Webtales didn’t last long.  You can see a few pages from Webtales below.  They are primitive, even  laughable by today’s standards but, that was the state of the web in 1995.

Webtales Screenshots


We had a few contributors but the challenge was how to get the word out?  Without social media there was no easy way to say ” hey, here we are, check us out”.  Today I’d post something on Facebook and at least my friends would take a look.  I was disappointed, for some strange reason I expected it to catch on.  In reality, the idea was ahead of its time technically speaking, it would be easy to do something like this now, there a countless projects like it. But, the main killer of the project was ME, me not having the confidence to persevere in spite of the limitations and obstacles.  In short, I didn’t truly believe in my idea and myself.

In ’95 had already been a stay-at-home dad for twelve years (I’ll talk more about that some other time). Our three kids were in school so I had more free time to myself… a good thing.  Yet, in hindsight, I realize now I was still reeling from the death of my brother David from AIDS in 1992.  And, I was finally confronting my clinical depression, something I have battled my entire adult life but never acknowledged.   In 1995 I was in bad shape but didn’t know it.

However, what I remember most vividly about  Webtales is the engagement, the joy I felt in the process, the creative process.  I loved working on it, figuring out how to make it work, building the webpages, writing  the copy and initial story lines.  It never dawned on me that the PROCESS was the most important element of the project, NOT THE OUTCOME!





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I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free” – Michelangelo


Way back in 2004 when I was 50 I created a blog called 50 and counting…


As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, turning 50 was traumatic.  I basically I thought life was over. Any dreams I had for myself were kaput. Crazy thinking I know but, that’s me.  Crazier still, I then turn around and create a blog, nothing earth shattering but something creative that came totally from within me.  Thankfully I had enough strength left at 50 to write a few lines once in awhile!

One of my last blog posts was in January 2008 titled: Reinvention.  You can read it below.

Click on an image and it will open larger for easier reading.



The topic was inspired by Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame.  I suggested that Plant had recently re-invented himself by partnering with folk singer Allison Krauss on the lovely album, Raising Sand.  I didn’t say it directly in the last line but, hinted I was about to do the same myself… and it was true.  Life over at 50, new life at 54!

So, my first post in the NEVER STOP. blog comes from tinkering with my website in this big re-design.   I’ve lost track of how many re-designs I’ve done over the years.  I have the knowledge and skill to do it so it’s a creative outlet of sorts. In truth, however, it can be a diversion, an excuse to avoid tackling far more important projects.  Instead of working on that kid’s book or any number of other projects I’ve been thinking about, I redo the site, that sort of thing.  But, this time the re-design offered a chance to re-tool, change my thinking about the purpose and goal of the site as I look at retiring from my day job in IT.  Yes, I am retiring at the end of the summer…hurrah!  

People ask: “what are you going to do when you retire?”.  I look at them with a slight smirk, they pause for a second, smile and say.. “oh yeah, you’ll have plenty to do!”.

I sure do…and I’m blogging again baby!


 Excerpts from the “50 and counting…” blog