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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Fruitless Search for Cincy Photog Ric Stercz: The Daily Bellwether Finds Him In a Snap

Rock Photo by Cincinnati's Ric Sterz
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has been searching for photographer Ric Stercz, hoping to legally claim title to a series of concert pix he shot in the 1990s of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young performing in Cincinnati and Indianapolis.   It was going nowhere.  The Rock Hall even ran a legal notice in The Cincinnati Enquirer Dec. 26 trying to nail down its claim.  The notice said the photo set would be considered "abandoned property" if Stercz or the rightful owner did not surface.  Stercz, who lives in Cheviot, was in plain sight all along. He's on Facebook where a collection of his rock pictures are posted.  They are impressive and many capture the energy of the music.  In a chat with The Daily Bellwether today he said he donated the photos to the Rock Hall years ago.  He did not know the Rock Hall was concerned about the provenance of the pictures.  Stercz said he took them himself at Riverfront Coliseum (now U.S. Bank Arena) and in Indianapolis around the time Crosby, Stills and Nash were inducted.  Stercz said he was flattered that the Rock Hall wants his pictures:  "Maybe they'll be on display.  They're actual photographs of all four in concert.  They're original and they're mine."
Rock Hall's Legal Notice

Stercz said he sent the photos to the Cleveland museum because Dennis Barrie, the original director of the Rock Hall, had spent time in Cincinnati as head of the Contemporary Arts Center.  He said he didn't know Barrie personally, but thought Barrie might enjoy displaying the concert pix because CSNY had all recently been installed as hall of famers.
 Stercz said he began taking photos of rock acts in the early 1980s:

"I was like a gatecrasher when I started all this.  In the 80s Cincinnati was one of the hottest venues in the country.  It was after the Who concert.  Everybody came here.  Eventually, people got to know me and I got passes and backstage access.  So I got a lot of stuff back when people were on tours and came through.  It was informal and not just the shows."

When The Bellwether spoke to the Rock Hall, an archivist said she had not seen the pictures from Stercz but that the museum definitely wanted any question of ownership settled.  She said Stercz could not be located, but she did not elaborate on what exactly had been done to find him.  (Turns out he was living on the the same street in Cheviot).  She said she did not know the value, if any, of the pictures.  She said the museum intended to make them available to researchers and historians who poked through its archives and collections, and did not want access clouded by fights over copyright and ownership.  For his part, Stercz said he's glad they'll be preserved:  "Its great.  I'm really glad to hear about this.  This is wonderful for somebody who started out as a gatecrasher."  Wouldn't it be cool if the Contemporary Arts Center put some of the photos on display.  Stercz's hometown deserves to see his work.

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