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Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011

Portrait Society Gallery's Matched Pair

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Francis Ford has lived long enough to celebrate his 66th birthday at the Sept. 16 opening of "Men of Leisure," the fourth in photographer-educator Ford's series of forays into the life and times of his friend, Jack Eigel. They met in 1997. The exhibit at the Portrait Society Gallery (207 E. Buffalo St., fifth floor) is up through Nov. 6.

"We met on a Sunday," Ford says. "He was wearing a mailman's uniform." Eigel, obviously and outrageously theatrical, collects costumes galore, and in a dozen new Ford photos, plus 40 selected "oldies" from previous exhibitions, you'll see him dressed to dazzle and puzzle. One image features a buff Eigel standing in an empty swimming pool, Speedo at the ready (and waders, too). On his head is a tasseled silver cap. Around his neck is a medal he won in the U.S. Transplant Games.

A few years ago, after undergoing a heart transplant, Eigel became a devotee of aerobic swimming. Ford told me that the mother of the heart donor phoned Eigel to tell him her son was very athletic—a swimmer.

MIAD students attending Ford's fall classes about opera may be shaken by the blasting forth of Don Giovanni—any of you who have followed Ford's stellar career will know that "going to hell" can be a helluva lot of Ford-fueled fun. Perhaps Eigel himself will appear as Giovanni. Who knows? Anything goes in their world. To you, Francis and Jack: You each deserve medals, if only for bucking life's currents. Your fans are legion. You are loved. You rock.