Mason features photographer’s work to raise money for Art Alley

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Nicole Bush

A crowd gathers at Bestsellers Books and Coffee Co on Oct. 19 for a benefit featuring Bruce Cornelius’s photography to raise money for Arts Initiative Mason.

On Thursday, Oct. 19, Arts Initiative Mason hosted “A Retrospective: A photographic journey by Bruce Cornelius,” a benefit for its next project, which initiative director Jeff Mills called “Art Alley.”

Plans for the alley include: a mural, a mosaic tile piece that will involve Mason students, the installation of donated sculptures, artisan benches and “lights and posters to talk about how we did it,” said Mills.

Bruce Cornelius

Nicole Bush

Bruce Cornelius, a former chief photographer at the Lansing State Journal, addresses the crowd at a benefit showcasing his photography at Bestsellers Books and Coffee Co.

Art Alley will be an installation around the corner from Bestsellers Books and Coffee Co.

“It’s a nice place,” Mills said.

A lot of people could walk through the alley and the ice cream place nearby already gets a lot of foot traffic, he said.

This benefit alone won’t be enough to make Art Alley happen, though, Mills said. “We’re applying for a number of grants, too.”

Cornelius, now retired, was the chief photographer at the Lansing State Journal.

According to a Lansing State Journal article about Cornelius, he left the LSJ in 1983.

Originally, the Oct. 19 benefit was to include multiple artists. But once AIM saw the number of photographs Cornelius was willing to contribute, AIM decided to make it a one-man show, he said.

“Which just broke my heart,” he said. “In a very good way.”

Nicole Bush

Women looking at photographs for sale at a benefit featuring former LSJ chief photographer Bruce Cornelius’s work.

“It really feeds the ego, if you want me to be brutally honest. It’s fantastic to see people that I work[ed] with years ago and they’ve shown up here—they saw the article in the paper—and they’ve just shown up to say hi. It’s really—it’s mind-boggling. It’s hard for me to believe,” said Cornelius.

“It’s a very, very good feeling,” he said.

Woman in shawl

Nicole Bush

A woman looks at photographs for sale at a benefit featuring former LSJ chief photographer Bruce Cornelius’s work.

Jerry Bailey came to show Cornelius a photograph from 1971. The photograph, taken from above, is of two men skydiving. One is receiving an award for his 1000th free-fall from the Michigan State University Sport Parachute Club, Bailey said.

Bailey said he took the photograph on his own 500th free-fall and Cornelius loaned him the camera to take it.

“He remembered,” Bailey said.

“I told him he was the catalyst for this photo existing,” said Bailey. It ran on the front page of the Sunday Journal the following day.

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