Growing up in Cleveland with a mother who nurtured his artistic impulses, the local artist and photographer No Numbers (aka Arron Bound) started dabbling in art at an early age.
“My mom is an artist, and she was always creating something,” says Bound one recent Saturday afternoon from his Ohio City home.
Bound's concert photos are the subject of Proxy: A Photo Exhibition By No Numbers
, a new exhibit coming to the Bop Stop
in February. At 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 1, the exhibit opens with a concert featuring local acts such as Michael McFarland, MagneticWest, Apostle Jones, Ladee Po3t and Ray Stoke.
In the wake of that opening celebration, the photo show will be on display at the Bop Stop for three months.
“Art was something I was good at, but I left that alone for many, many years,” says Bound, who moved to upstate New York where he managed a restaurant for several years.
After moving back to Cleveland, he again took up photography but without any intentions of ever displaying his work publicly. He just enjoyed shooting concerts and doing something artistic.
“I decided to make a change when I moved back to Cleveland," he says. "I had been managing restaurants, but I said, ‘I don’t want to do that anymore.’ I knew I wanted to do artwork because I really liked working with other artists.”
He purchased a higher quality camera last winter and started going to see indie bands when they performed in town. When the Bop Stop approached him about showing his work, he jumped at the chance even though he later realized he would need to quickly build up his portfolio of photos.
“This show focuses on strictly concert photographry,” says Bound, who started calling himself No Numbers several years ago.
“Back in the days of dial-up, I would have an email address, and I wanted to create a unique email address that didn’t have numbers following it,” he explains. “I thought of ‘No Numbers.’ Only in the last couple of years did I start using it as an artistic thing and start introducing myself that way.”
Bound takes a particularly unique approach to concert photographs. He modifies his photos using outdated photo editing software (specifically, an old version of Photoshop) to turn them into brilliantly colorful images that are so blown-out, it’s difficult to tell exactly what the original musician looks like.
“The use of 'proxy' within the exhibit’s title derives from my inner belief that we give artist the power of proxy, bestowing them authority over our minds and emotions,” Bound explains in a press release about the exhibit. “By relinquishing personal control of our mental state, we as human beings gain the ability to evoke unconscious emotion that transcends time and space. The reality of such an intimate moment cannot be measured or valued in numbers. When I take photos of artist(s) during a live performance, it is my intent to capture that immeasurable, yet invaluable moment.”
Bound says that when he came back to Cleveland and started seeing bands play, he turned to photography simply as way of having something to do at the shows.
“It was just natural,” he says. “I can’t just stand and watch a band. Taking photos was a natural thing. But if I’m taking photos, I can move around. I had some friends like Alex Alveraz [aka the local singer-songwriter Xela]. I started following people like him and just taking the shots. It’s a lot better than sitting at home. I just wanted to find the music and find people.”
Bound will have about 12 matted photos on display at the Bop Stop along with a few photos that haven’t been matted yet.
“There will be music going on at the opening from the time it begins to the time it ends,” he says. “I’m not a photographer without the musicians up there. I want to honor them by putting their photos up on the wall, and it's important they're there to perform. I want [the exhibit] to be about my work, but maybe it’s the shyness that makes me want it to be about the bands too.”
Next, Bound said he’d like to make a photo book of all the tool and die places in Cleveland before they disappear.
“I used to work in an industrial area on the west side and there were a lot then,” he says. “I hope if I take photos of some of the tool and die places that still exist, it can help build my portfolio so that when I’m applying for grants, it shows that I can manage myself and do a project like that. I feel like photographing the tool and die shops would be a preservation of things we don’t see in Cleveland. It’s easy to see the glitzy, pretty things that make Cleveland stand out, but this is what Cleveland is for me.”
Proxy: A Photo Exhibition By No Numbers Opening Celebration, 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, Bop Stop, 2610 Detroit Ave., 216-377-1952. Tickets: $10, themusicsettlement.org