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Iron Ore Ships and Laborers On Display In 'Winter Layup'

For the last year, The 730 Project has shown photographs taken in the two blocks surrounding 730 North Plankinton Avenue in downtown Milwaukee. It is no coincidence that, that happens to be the address of photographer Dick Blau, the creator of the project.

Jim Brozek's fellow laborers, posing for a photograph. This image is featured in Winter Layup.

Since 2009, Blau has taken hundreds of photos of the area, revisiting this familiar subject in many different ways.

"The pictures I would make would either be taken inside the building where I lived or within sight of it," he explains. "This was a two-square-block area, a deep dive into this place seen in every possible aspect."

But The 730 Projection has taken a break from that familiar ground to head just south to Milwaukee’s harbor.

Winter Layup is a film made up of still photographs created by Jim Brozek in the late '70s through the mid-'80s, when he worked as a seasonal laborer on iron ore boats in Milwaukee’s harbor. The images show men at work on these boats in the middle of winter, welding and shaping these enormous ships.

"The port captain, I convinced him that I can work just as hard or more than some of the workers I'd be working with, and so they began to accept me carrying my camera ... It was five years, five winters, of a cool experience. I mean, the ships were incredible to work on," Brozek recalls.

Winter Layup will be on display through Labor Day, and can be seen just west of Mo's Irish Pub on Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee. 

Joy Powers hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2016.