Dr. Howard Sirak - A Columbus Treasure

When most people think of Columbus, they don't think of Monet, Matisse, or Cezanne; to imagine local individuals who own pieces of these artists' immortality is equally unlikely (minus a few paramount names). There are a few people, however, who may immediately think of tne astute art collector and consummate gentleman Dr. Howard Sirak, who remains to be the main contributor to the Columbus Museum of Art. But how many people know Sirak the artist? The photographer?

After retiring as a congenital heart surgeon, Howard developed a passion for photography. His travels would take him worldwide, shooting wildlife from Central and South America to Alaska, the Galapagos Islands, and making nearly a dozen trips to Africa alone. "Africa's my favorite place," he says.

It is breathtaking to sift through the three large rooms Sirak has turned into a gallery filled with thousands of photographs and countless hours of dedicated thought and inspiration. "Here's a picture of a mock-charging elephant," he says, explaining the phony attack of a barreling mammoth of gray and tusks. "His head would be lowered and his trunk would be rolled back if he were serious." Instead of turning and running, like most would do, he stayed steady and got the shot. There are many of these beautifully dangerous photos.

Sirak shoots, develops, mats and frames all of his work; the body of which is extraordinary yet approachable. It's an amazing collection of exotic animals, people, places and memories. Sirak's last showing was at Capital University, and has no showings scheduled for 2005 so far. However, you can view much of his work at www.animalworldspecialimages.com