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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Check out These Neighbors in the TREELoft in the third floor of the Bull St. Library until April 30.

EVERY Martin Luther King, Jr. Day between 2001 and 2007, photographer Mark Uzmann would head downtown in the early morning to attend the parade.

But it wasn't the marching bands or rolling floats that he came to see. Instead, he turned his camera on the spectators.

"I started out wanting to take pictures of the parade, but it just didn't work," says Uzmann.

"I looked around and saw all the people who came out and thought I could find something really special."

Over the years, Uzmann documented what he calls "a composite of Black Savannah," an elegant presentation of "lovers and friends, children and old folk...matriarchs and patriarchs, those of strong counsel and those fallen on hard times."

More than 150 images make up his collection, and a selection has been curated into an exhibit, These Neighbors, showing in the TREELoft on the third floor of the Bull Street Library.

A SCAD Psychology professor who earned his MFA in Photography one class at time, Uzmann recently retired to focus on his art. Two of his works are in the Telfair's permanent collection, and he currently has several pieces in the Reynolds Square Gallery.

His hope for the exhibit is that people will recognize themselves and their families at that moment in history, commemorating a great man and great ideals. (That's already happened at least once; one woman saw her then-toddler son in one of the photos and was delighted to tell Uzmann that the young man is now 17.)

Uzmann sought to capture the jubilant atmosphere of Savananh's MLK parades.

"I asked everyone to take their picture, but I didn't ask them to pose. I took whatever they gave me," says Uzman.

"And they gave me wonderful things."