Next week, Jarob Ortiz, the large format staff photographer for the Heritage Documentation Programs of the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. will spend a few days in Milwaukee – his hometown – documenting some architectural treasures for the National Park Service.
Ortiz, who will be hosted by Matt Jarosz, director of the Historic Preservation Institute at UW-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture & Urban Planning (and member of the City of Milwaukee's Historic Preservation Commission), will arrive late Monday and begin photographing sites on Tuesday. He will remain here until Friday.
On Wednesday, Nov. 15, from 7 until 9:30 p.m. there will be a meet and greet reception for Ortiz, who will also give a brief presentation on his work at 8 p.m., at the historic Pritzlaff Building, 315 N. Plankinton Ave., Downtown. Snacks and drinks will be provided.
It is thanks to the support of Pritzlaff owner Kendall Breunig – who is passionate about Milwaukee history – and TechRender that Ortiz is able to come.
Jarosz says that Ortiz will be here in large part to document the Mitchell Park Conservatory domes for the Library of Congress and National Archives. He will also document other landmarks, too, including the Pritzlaff Building and the Pabst Mansion pavilion.
If there's time, Jarosz is hoping that other buildings, like the Tripoli Shrine, can be documented, too.
“It’s a shame that we only really pay attention to buildings that are threatened,” Jarosz tells me. “There are the Shrine, The Pfister and so many others that we should be documenting.”
He also suggests that the Soldiers Home could also be on the agenda.
“That has been photographed before,” he says, “but a lot has gone on there since then."
Because Ortiz uses a large format camera and 4x5 negatives, photographing the sites is not a fast process, which will limit the number of buildings he can capture on film during this visit.
Ortiz is a 2013 graduate of the Milwaukee Area Technical College photography program. He graduated from Oak Creek High School in 2001.
He landed his gig at National Park Service’s Heritage Documentation Services – which some call the “Ansel Adams Photographer” position because it mirrors, somewhat, the work that the famed lensman did for the Department of the Interior in the 1940s – in 2016, beating out about 4,000 other applicants.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.