Printmaker Richard Jackson Remembers Jerry Jacka

Jerry Jacka lines up a shot at Lake Powell. | Courtesy of the Jacka family

Our April issue, on newsstands now, honors legendary photographer Jerry Jacka, who contributed photographs to Arizona Highways for parts of seven decades before his death late last year. For the issue, we asked those who knew Jerry best to share their thoughts about him.

One of the people we asked was master printmaker Richard Jackson, who worked with Jerry many times over the years. While his full thoughts were too lengthy to include in the issue, we're happy to share them here.

I met Jerry in 1978 or 1979.  I had just moved to Phoenix, Arizona, from Illinois to start a new photo lab. I had read and admired the images presented in Arizona Highways while living in Illinois before moving to Phoenix. I had always dreamed that someday I would make prints for some of the photographers whose images I admired and were published in the magazine.

It wasn’t too many months after starting my new photo lab, Jerry Jacka walked into my lab. With all due respect to everyone else who had come in before him, I thought Jerry was my first important “really big deal” photographer that crossed my threshold.

The first time he came in, he didn’t give me an image to print.  He wanted to meet me and find out what services I was offering and, I think, just check me out. It wasn’t long after that he came in again, but this time he wanted me to make him a 16x20 print from one of his beautiful 4x5 transparencies. He asked me if I could match the print I made to his original transparency. Of course I said yes. I was pretty young, and thought I was a pretty good printer and this was my chance to prove my skills to none other than Jerry Jacka.

He didn’t like the print I made.  At first I couldn’t understand why, since I thought it was a really nice print. I put my all into making it the nicest print I thought it could be, and so when Jerry looked at the print and didn’t jump for joy, I was crushed. Not only did he not jump for joy, he proceeded to explain why the print didn’t work for him. He needed a little more detail in a shadow area, slightly more density in another place, and the color was a bit too warm overall.

Well, of course, I made those changes, and when he saw the second print, he liked it. I was pleased about that, but for some time, couldn’t understand why he didn’t like my first print. 

I made more prints for Jerry and other photographers and continued to run into the same issue. About half the time, I would need to make a second print with corrections indicated by Jerry and the other photographers for whom I was printing. This was even though I thought my prints were quite good.

Then one day I had an epiphany: The print I am making is not my print! It’s Jerry’s print. So what if I started asking questions of Jerry before I print to find out what he wanted before I go into the darkroom? That approach worked much better. Now my first-print approvals went way up! Once I started thinking about the needs of my client first, I got better results for them.

The reason I tell this story is I believe it was Jerry who first helped me realize that finding out more information about an image, and even the story behind the image, helps me create a print that then helps Jerry tell his story better for his client.

Learning about your subject in as much detail as possible was always Jerry’s approach to his creative photography and storytelling. He did his research. He met his subjects and got to know them before he pulled out his camera. His beautiful, groundbreaking photography of Native American artwork was because he knew what was important to the artist and then did whatever it took to present the artwork in a way that captured the artist's vision. He was a genius at doing this over and over again.

Jerry never compromised for his love of his family, his love of his work and the love he showed to so many he touched.

It was an honor to make some of Jerry’s prints over the years. He taught me so much by the example of excellence he set for himself. I owe him a lot and will miss him always.

— Richard Jackson

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For You: Sunny Days to Come

Chad Coppess | Monument Valley

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following appeared at the end of the December 1951 issue of Arizona Highways. Happy New Year!

Friends meet and part, going their separate ways through the maze and patterns of life woven by the stern fingers of destiny. They give something of themselves to each other. Neither time nor distance takes away the influences left by the warm traits of personality and comradeship; nor lessens the pleasant memories of joys and happiness shared, one with the other.

Friendship is one of the great compensations of living. How sparse, indeed, would one's life be without friends!

A friend cheers you in your triumphs, lends solace in your sorrows. A friend demands nothing of you; he gives everything cheerfully. He shares his life with you; so that your life is made more complete by the precious gifts of friendship.

As the New Year begins, one remembers one's friends, both near and far. When the Old Year dies and the New Year is born, a new page unfolds bright and crisp and clean for our story to be written there upon.

We hope that as the new story on the new page of the New Year is inscribed for you, there will be each day and every day to come, for you and yours, much happiness and sunshine and the warmest wishes that friend can extend to friend.

— Raymond Carlson, Editor

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Just an Old-Fashioned Christmas

Lyle Bown | Grand Canyon

The following text appeared in the December 1949 issue of Arizona Highways. On behalf of the magazine's staff, we wish you and yours a happy holiday.

Your neighbors or the choir from the little church down the street will gather before your house and sing the ancient songs of Yule on Christmas Eve. The Christmas tree in your house will send its merry, twinkling light of good cheer through the unshuttered windows, sharing with the stars in a Christmas sky the happenstance of guiding the way of a neighbor or a stranger passing by. There will be gifts around the Christmas tree, large and small it matters not. It isn't what you give but how you give it, it isn't what you receive but how you receive it that bespeaks the spirit of the Holy Season.

If your dear ones are far away, they will be with you this day, your thoughts and their thoughts, your love and their love, your memories and their memories encompassing the intervening miles. If your loved ones are with you they will be closer than ever, because family affection and trust has always been the inspiration of this day since the first Christmas long ago when a Child cried in a Manger and patient beasts of burden munched the dry straw.

Among you and yours there will be charity for the less fortunate, comfort for the lonely, solace for those who sorrow, sympathy for the ill, compassion for the proud and selfish. Among you and yours there will be reverent gratitude and humility for all that has been given to make this day for you richer and happier and more complete.

In short, we wish you just an old-fashioned Christmas.

— Raymond Carlson, Editor

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Jerome's First and Only Wild-Turkey Thanksgiving Banquet

A wild turkey on Mount Lemmon, near Tucson. | Stan Lowery

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following story appeared in the now-defunct Along the Way section of the November 1993 issue of Arizona Highways. On behalf of everyone at the magazine, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

Jerome's First and Only Wild-Turkey Thanksgiving Banquet
By William Hafford

It's been said confession is good for the soul. Sometimes it can also be good for a laugh. I'm thinking particularly about the 1936 Thanksgiving banquet my father cooked up in Jerome, Arizona.

This affair took place in a town established on a mountainside called Cleopatra Hill, where the upper limits of the community were situated some 1,500 feet above the lower limits. Where, after dark, people locked their doors, went to bed early, and slept while the streets of the town shifted and settled. Large fissures often appeared overnight in the narrow asphalt thoroughfares. Buildings moved and leaned, and once the jail slid down the hill on which it perched.

The reason for Jerome's existence was copper. Mining operations had created an 88-mile maze of tunnels under the town and deep into Cleopatra Hill. This tunneling caused the mountainside — and the town — to remain in slow continuous motion.

In 1936, Jerome -- its copper deposits playing out -- was losing population fast. At the time, it appeared to be heading toward ghost-town status.

I had come to the town with my father, a civil engineer who was surveying for a stretch of highway.

Around the first of November, my father began talking to his survey crew about a turkey-hunting expedition into the wilds of the Mogollon Rim country. The turkeys, he believed, would be perfect for a huge Thanksgiving banquet that, he may have thought, would also serve as a sort of salute to a community that soon might be no more.

I recall that a group of ladies met in our living room one day to discuss the arrangements for the big event. And soon every square foot of banquet area in the local Conner Hotel had been reserved for Thanksgiving eve.

My father and his survey crew disappeared into the wilderness for a full three days, returning one early evening with so many turkeys that they entirely filled the bed of Buddy Cleveland's pickup. Now plans for the banquet moved ahead with vigor.

The Conner Hotel was not a fancy establishment by today's standards, but it was the only place in town that could accommodate a major banquet with a guest list of more than 200 people.

On the evening of the affair, the hotel's long tables were bedecked formally with white linen and candles. The men wore ties and jackets; the women, their finest dresses.

The event was a total success, complete with sparkling conversation, the clink of silverware and glasses … and beautifully browned turkeys, two or three to each table.

I was terribly proud of my father's accomplishment. Throughout the evening, the guests lavished him and his hunting companions with compliments. Said the mayor's wife, "I can actually taste the flavor of the wild acorns and piñon nuts."

Remarked a mine foreman, "I'm spoiled. I'll never eat another barnyard turkey again."

In the years that followed, I was graduated from high school, went on to college, moved to another state, and raised a family of five children. Then, about 45 years after the wild-turkey banquet, my father, then in his 80s, was felled by a stroke.

I traveled west to Phoenix to visit him. He had lost all use of one arm, and it took great concentration for him to coax even slight movement out of his right leg. His speech was slurred and sometimes difficult to understand.

We sat in his den reminiscing, when, at one point, he asked, "Do you remember the wild-turkey banquet in Jerome?"

I said I did, and for a few minutes we relived the occasion and all of its small-town glitter. Then, with a slight smile playing at the corner of his mouth, he said, "There's something I need to tell you. I and all of the men who went on that hunting trip took an oath of secrecy, but I think it's time I told someone.

"We wandered the Mogollon Rim for three days and never saw a single turkey track. But there was no way we could return home empty-handed. So we followed imaginary tracks to a poultry farm down in the Verde Valley where we paid the going price for a batch of standard barnyard birds."

I felt the smile forming. "What about all those remarks about the taste of wild acorns and piñon nuts?" I asked.

"Imagination. People have vivid imaginations. Corn and poultry feed. That's what those birds were raised on."

I laughed aloud, raised my hand to slap my knee and knocked a glass of iced tea to the floor, cubes scattering across the carpet. When I bent down to pick them up, I happened to look across at my dad. He had lapsed into a pensive mood, looking at the wall -- or perhaps beyond it -- looking back down the path of his long life. Seeing things that now existed only in memory. Reliving the past, knowing time was short.

Two weeks later — his confession made — he passed away.

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An American Home

"Mountain Home" by A. Frank Purcell | Arizona Highways Archives

As the United States entered World War II, the above photo and the following essay appeared in the February 1942 issue of Arizona Highways.

This, an American home, stands today as the citadel of liberty and freedom before the storm of destruction hurling its fury over the seven seas and the intervening continents of the world today. Neither prince nor potentate, neither king nor colossus is half as important as the person who herein dwells. He alone will dictate the final paragraph that History, the sharp penman, writes today in the story of freemen prevailing and persevering against bestiality and brutality.

This is the home of an American citizen. It might be a cottage in Maine by the sea. It might be an apartment on Park Avenue. It might be a farmhouse on a Kansas prairie. In this particular case, as here pictorially portrayed, it is a ranch home in the hills of Yavapai County, Arizona. But wherever it may be — this American home — it represents the mightiest monument against Oppression there is today.

This American home is something more than four walls and a roof. Its nails were driven at Valley Forge, at Gettysburg and in the forests of the Argonne. The spirit that binds it together and makes it the impregnable fortress of freedom that it is was written in the Constitution, the Bible, the Bill of Rights. This American home didn't just happen. It is the result of the rightful thinking of free and courageous men and women since the golden age of Pericles of Athens centuries ago. Many people in many ages contributed to the lasting quality of the American home as it stands today, for the cause of freedom knows no beginning or no ending. The tired voice of Abraham Lincoln proclaiming the proposition that all men are created equal sums up in words of granite the philosophy of the American home and the country where it is enshrined.

The folks who live in such a house live simply and quietly. They are intrinsically people of peace — but great is their fury when their home is endangered and their philosophy of living is threatened.

From such homes as this ranch home in the hills of Yavapai County come young men of spirit who in a few short weeks become the equal of the automatons drilled and tested for years. It brings out the old knowledge that you fight when you have something to fight for.

So the years pass, the sun comes up and sets, there come days of peace and days of war, but through the turmoil the American home remains solid and firm.

Herein Freedom sits down with you to breakfast, and Liberty joins in the evening prayers. Here Kindness and Goodness and Charity help do the cooking and here Courage and Honor and Resolution and Fortitude sit around the table like members of the family. Here Independence does her knitting. Here is Greatness.

Favored, indeed, are the people who live in such a home.

— Raymond Carlson, Editor

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Arizona Highways Gift Shop Welcomes Eirini Pajak

Arizona's native plants are a favorite subject of photographer Eirini Pajak. | Keith Whitney

Featured this month in the Arizona Highways gift shop is a nature photographer who should be familiar to recent readers of the magazine.

Eirini Pajak began contributing to Highways a few years ago — you might remember her from It's in the Details, her portfolio in our January 2015 issue. But at least one of her photos has been in seemingly every issue since then.

Many of Pajak's images feature a photographic technique known as focus-stacking. She shoots with the lens almost wide open, then manually focuses through the plane of the flower, one millimeter at a time. She then "stacks" the images using a computer program. Doing so allows her to control the depth of field in the background and get focus through the subject.

Pajak studied photography in college but didn't keep up with it after she graduated. A decade later, a monk at St. Anthony's Monastery in Florence, where Pajak often attends services, suggested she start photographing wildflowers. "He added, specifically, not to overlook even the tiniest flowers," she says. That suggestion has shaped her photographic style.

"I've seen so many amazing images of poppies and lupines, but there is a whole world of neglected — and often quite tiny — flowers that are no less beautiful," she says.

To get a look at Pajak's work or purchase a print, stop by the gift shop, located at 2039 W. Lewis Avenue in Phoenix. It's open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. A portion of the purchase price benefits Arizona Highways' mission of promoting travel to and through Arizona.

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The Stravenue: Part Street, Part Avenue, All Tucson

The lovely Pueblo Gardens Park is located on Forgeus Stravenue in Tucson. | Google Maps

Arizona Highways got its start as a magazine about, well, Arizona highways. And while we've since expanded our mission to include Arizona travel and tourism in general, we still have a soft spot for unique roads — highways and otherwise. And Tucson has a set of roads you won't find anywhere else.

The Old Pueblo, like Phoenix, is mostly laid out in a grid, with the vast majority of streets running either north-south or east-west. But in both cities, there are outliers. In Phoenix, Grand Avenue, a stretch of U.S. Route 60, is the most well-known diagonal street.

But Tucson gave birth to a whole new type of road. As Atlas Obscura noted recently, it started in the 1940s, with Cherrybell Stravenue — a portmanteau of "street" and "avenue." Cherrybell is only a half-mile long, but it runs diagonally, whereas most of Tucson's north-south roads are avenues and most of its east-west roads are streets.

The local Uniform Naming and Numbering Committee agreed that "Stravenue" was the best halfway point between the two designations. Soon, there were about 30 stravenues in Tucson.

But this phenomenon hasn't spread to Phoenix, or any other city, for that matter. Stravenues are a uniquely Tucsonan designation. So, has anyone out there ever lived or commuted on a stravenue? And are there any other street designations you think should be combined?

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The Brave Shall Live Forever

Lindsay Klettenberg | Lake Havasu City

During World War II, the following letter, and response from Editor Raymond Carlson, appeared in the April 1943 issue of Arizona Highways. On this Memorial Day, we're honored to share it with you again.

In 1941 a party of airmen of the Royal Air Force, from this country, were located at Thunderbird Airfield, for training; moving later to a new Airfield.

Amongst the many aspects of hospitality shown to them by the citizens of Phoenix and its neighborhood, you very kindly gave to each of them a year's subscription of Arizona Highways, the splendid publication of your Highway Department.

My younger son, Gilbert Tannahill Dawson, was one of the party, and he arranged that your magazine should be sent to my wife and myself. I have often desired to thank you for your gift and the kindness shown to my son and his companions, but pressure of work, accentuated by the war, has led me to postpone doing so until now. I should like you to know that we have greatly enjoyed your magazine; it is a beautiful publication, and makes us wish that it were possible for us to visit your great State and see something of its beauty and its wonders. I have been in the U.S.A. myself several times but never managed to get as far west as Arizona.

My son continued his training in England until June of last year, as a bomber pilot, and was sent to the Middle East, to join the Air Force in North Africa. I am sorry to say that just before Christmas we received the sad news that he had died from injuries received on November 22nd, at Bone, Algeria. It was a great blow to us as somehow we had always expected him to come home again, despite the danger of his calling. Our loving Heavenly Father has seen fit to take him Home instead. He would have been twenty-one in a few weeks, had he lived. His older brother, a lieutenant in the army, is at present engaged in the fighting in Tripolitania.

You can understand that, as the memories of the past come before us, we have a warm feeling towards all the friends who, in so many ways, showed kindness to his son and his companions while they were in your great country, and we should like to thank you with all our hearts.

— Gilbert Dawson, 20 Church Road, Hertford, Herts, England.

To Mr. and Mrs. Dawson Arizona Highways expresses, in behalf of the people of Arizona, deepest sympathy for the loss of their son. These English boys who have been with us have not only won the esteem of our people but they have done so much to earn the greatest admiration for their country. Many English boys and many American boys will give their lives for their countries before this war ends. We will remember, though, through our fears and our losses, that the brave shall live forever, and these are the brave, the gallant brave, who will fight to the end with a smile on their lips.

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Then and Now: Arizona Highways World Headquarters

The Arizona Highways offices in 1962. | Arizona Highways Archives

Today (Sunday, March 26) marks a special anniversary at Arizona Highways: 55 years in our current building, at 2039 W. Lewis Avenue in Phoenix.

That's according to this postcard, anyway, which we found recently among news clippings and other memorabilia from the magazine's early years. Whether or not the exact date of the move was March 26 has been lost to history, but it probably happened sometime in 1962.

After we found the postcard, we set out to re-create this scene in the present day. So, how close did we get? See for yourself (click image for larger version):

Well, we might not have gotten the angle exactly right, but you get the idea. Not much has changed in 55 years, but we've added a palm tree and a few windows to the front of the building. The panels that once flanked the front door have been replaced by windows as well, but the door is the original from 1962.

Stop by and pay us a visit sometime. At our gift shop, you'll find magazines, books, calendars and other Arizona Highways items. The hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, excluding major holidays.

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Here in Phoenix, We Like to Spread Out

Andrei Stoica | Phoenix

If you live in Phoenix or have spent much time here, you know it's a big place. But how does it compare with some of the world's other major cities when it comes to density?

A graphic produced recently by SpareFoot, a company that helps people find storage space, provides an answer. As it turns out, even though Phoenix is among the largest cities in the U.S. in terms of land area, it's a lot less dense than many cities in the U.S. and around the world.

The graphic shows how big Phoenix would be if its 1.6 million people were packed as densely as, for example, New York City's residents. If that were the case, Phoenix would be only 55 square miles — about a tenth of its current size.

The difference is even more dramatic when comparing with international cities like Manila — a city so dense that if Phoenix had the same density, it'd be only 14.5 square miles. That's not even as big as Phoenix's South Mountain Park, which is about 25 square miles.

You can see the whole graphic below.

Phoenix Storage Units on SpareFoot

Via SpareFoot Phoenix


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