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George K. Arthur, who was for many years Buffalo Common Council president, remains a highly visible person in the community today. But he's a lot less visible as a photographer, an activity he's been pursuing for decades.

Arthur didn't have his first show until his debut exhibition in the Nina Freudenheim Gallery in 1995. "It can be a little frightening," this very public figure said at the time. Arthur's photographs - straightforward, with no tricks of light, no odd angles, no compositional hijinks - have the modest goal of capturing his subjects without fanfare or technical showmanship.

And what subjects they are. Years back he photographed Bishop Desmond Tutu and - in 1967 when the civil rights leader was in town for a lecture in Kleinhans Music Hall - Dr. Martin Luther King. His portraits feature jazz and blues musicians of both local and national fame - people like Al Tinney and Ramsey Lewis and the local bluesman Rodney Appleby.

But it is his photographs of friends and acquaintances on the streets of Buffalo's East Side that best show his ability to catch life as it is lived. Arthur's photographs - including many examples of the East Side photos, a number of his jazz portraits and shots of other subjects - will be shown in the lobby of Studio Arena Theatre during the run of "A Lesson Before Dying." The show is presented in collaboration with CEPA Gallery, where Arthur is president of the board of directors.

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