Metro-East News

Belleville photographer using ‘Shadows of St. Louis’ as fundraiser for homeless

Photographer Nic Tullis talked to DeMarlow, a homeless man, on a very cold day. Tullis said DeMarlow gave him a pair of gloves and inspired him to find a way to raise money for the St. Patrick Center in St. Louis.
Photographer Nic Tullis talked to DeMarlow, a homeless man, on a very cold day. Tullis said DeMarlow gave him a pair of gloves and inspired him to find a way to raise money for the St. Patrick Center in St. Louis. Nic Tullis

A Belleville photographer is shedding light on those who live in the shadows with his iPhone camera.

Nic Tullis’ interest in iPhone photography has led to an exhibit that will help those people who so interested him. The photography exhibit opens Friday night at the Soulard Art Market and Contemporary Gallery. Proceeds from sales at “Shadows of St. Louis” will benefit the St. Patrick Center.

“Anybody can have hard times and end up at the bottom and need help,” said Kathy Gomric, a resident artist at the Soulard Art Market who lives in Millstadt.

She said since she found out about Tullis’ work two years ago, she’s learned about homeless people “even here, in the Belleville area. This isn’t an isolated situation, it’s everywhere that people have fallen on hard times.”

One of Tullis’ more inspiring meetings was with a homeless man known only as DeMarlow, whose photograph will appear in the exhibit.

“It was in early January or late December,” Tullis said, when he had asked DeMarlow if he could photograph him. “I didn’t have gloves on, so my hands started to get cold and red, and he noticed.” Tullis said. DeMarlow reached into a bag packed with half-empty bags of chips and such that he’d been given, and pulled out a pair of gloves.

“I felt like I owed it to him at least to give back, if not to him directly then to St. Patrick’s Center that he had talked about.”

The St. Patrick Center, 800 N. Tucker Blvd., helps the homeless and near-homeless find safe, affordable housing as well as mental and physical health services, and financial stability. The organization says it has been in St. Louis for more than 30 years, and helps move 1,200 clients and their children into housing every year. Several hundred of its clients come from areas other than St. Louis City or St. Louis County.

“Our services are in Missouri, but we have clients in Illinois,” said St. Patrick’s spokeswoman Kathleen Nelson. “We’re not a shelter ... we’re more of a service provider.”

“Nic came to us and said ‘I’ve been taking these photos, I’ve toured the center, and I’d like to make this a fundraiser for you,’” Nelson said. The center expects 400 to 500 people at the event; there isn’t a charge but the food and clothing donations are welcome and will go to St. Patrick’s.”

“All the pictures in the show are up for silent auction, and all the proceeds go to St. Patrick’s Center,” Tullis said.

It’s not the first charity work Tullis has done; the proceeds from some artwork for sale on his site http://nictullisphotos.com/ goes to fund Multiple Sclerosis research.

“My mom has MS, and she’s worked very hard to support me and what I want to do in my life,” Tullis said.

Contact reporter Mary Cooley at mcooley@bnd.com or 618-239-2535. Follow her on Twitter: @MaryCooleyBND.

Want to go?

What: “Shadows of St. Louis” exhibit to benefit the St. Patrick Center, which helps homeless people.

Where: Soulard Art Market and Contemporary Gallery, 2028 S. 12th Street in St. Louis

When: Opening reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday; exhibit is open through June 7 (Thursdays through Sundays)

More info: http://soulardartmarket.org/shadows-of-st-louis-may-2015

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