September 1, 2009
By Claire Sykes
Seattle photographer, artist, writer and historian Paul Dorpat roams around with his camera like “an enchanted tourist in my own city,” he’s been known to say. Walk with him in his Wallingford neighborhood and you’ll notice things you’d otherwise pass right by: the pattern of dead leaves scattered in the gutter, the shadow of oak limbs pressed against a house window, an afternoon sky pulled taut behind telephone wires. And then there’s my favorite, a row of seven Dumpsters with some of their lids open like finger holes in a flute, different ones every day, that Paul’s camera plays—eventually a composition he’ll arrange for real musical instruments.
Co-author with my good friend Jean Sherrard of Washington Then & Now, Paul “views history through the eyes of an artist,” says Norm Langell, president of One Reel, producers of Seattle’s esteemed Bumbershoot festival, the precursor of which Paul produced back in 1968. He has written 13 historical books and for the past 27 years has penned a weekly column for The Seattle Times. Collector and curator of hundreds of Kodachrome photos by the late Horace Sykes (no relation to me), Paul aims to bring forward this “master of the picturesque.” Currently, he’s also at work on two historical novels and a biography of the late Ivar Haglund, founder of Ivar’s Seafood Restaurants.
A Seattle fixture himself, Paul is clearly embraced and dearly loved by many, not the least of whom is me!