|In 1969 Dick Arentz began three years of study with Phil Davis of the Photography Department at the University of Michigan. His interest at that time was in the large format silver contact print. His informal “thesis,” the Death Valley Portfolio (1972) was published in a 1973 issue of Camera Magazine.
After a sabbatical in Europe in 1973, Arentz relocated in Flagstaff, Arizona where he taught studio and photographic history at Northern Arizona University. In 1978, he was selected by the Arts and Humanities Commission as one of twenty Arizona artists to receive recognition. That year he began a six-year project, which was published as Four Corners Country in 1986, for which he received an Edna Rider Whiteman Foundation grant.Four Corners Country was reissued in soft cover in 1994.
He returned to Ann Arbor in 1980 to study the platinum process with Phil Davis. Almost immediately Arentz began researching and writing about platinum and palladium techniques, due to the scarcity of information and the unpredictability of the materials themselves. In 1983, he began to produce negatives with an antique 12×20 Folmer and Schwing Camera. By 1985, major museums and corporations had begun to collect his work. In 1987, he produced The American Southwest, a limited edition portfolio of 12×20 platinum prints with an essay by James Enyeart, former Director of the Center for Creative Photography.
In 1988, seeking a change, Arentz accepted An Isaac W. Bernheim Fellowship to live and work in Kentucky. He began a three-year project photographing the mid-southern states and Appalachia, concentrating on the human impact on the landscape. In 1990, under the sponsorship of the Huntington Museum Of Art, an exhibition and catalogue of that work, Outside The Mainstream, with an introduction by Merry Foresta, was funded by the National Endowment For The Arts.
In 1990, Dick Arentz was one of four Arizona artists selected for the Phoenix Art Museum Triennial Exhibition. In 1992, he was included in Between Home And Heaven, Contemporary American Landscape Photographers, National Museum Of American Art. In England, During 1994-95, Arentz exhibited at the Fox-Talbot Museum and was included in the exhibition, A Positive View at the Saatchi Gallery. In 1996, he accepted a fellowship from the Columbus Art Museum to create a portfolio of central Ohio. In 1998, Nazraeli Press published a collection of his work from continental Europe, The Grand Tour, with an essay by Tom Southall, Curator of Photography at the High Museum. Another book from Nazraeli Press, The British Isles was published in 2001.
Arentz continued to publish and teach the techniques of platinum and palladium printing. As a result of his research, he was able to solve a problem that has plagued non-silver printers for years with the formulation of specifications to allow a major paper company to manufacture a paper suitable for these photographic processes. In 2000, he published the 1st edition of Platinum & Palladium Printing with Focal Press. In 2005, following research into the specific uses of sodium chloroplatinate (Na2) as a contrast control agent, Platinum & Palladium Printing was revised for a 2nd edition.
In 2000, having spent 35 years exposing film through the bellows of large format view cameras, Dick began to use the latest digital technology. In 2010 with the publication of Italy Through Another Lens Dick has moved to a new phase of his career, concentrating on images for publication and utilizing the Piezography method to make fine-art prints.
In a forty-year career, Dick Arentz has had over seventy-five one-man exhibits in museums and private galleries. Since 1984 has conducted over forty platinum printing workshops, included those at The Center For Creative Photography, The Museum Of Photographic Arts and The Friends Of Photography.