Darton (Dart) E. Drake chose to go be with the Lord, April 7th, 2015. He was 66 years old at the time of his death and was living in Portland, Oregon.
Darton was born October 1st, 1948 in Madison, WI to Glen and Charlotte Drake. He spent the majority of his life in Baraboo, WI where he built a very successful photography business. Some will remember Dart for his quick wit, ready laugh and his storytelling. But all will remember Dart for his brilliant portraits. If you were lucky enough to be photographed by him, you know what an amazing experience it was. Through his storytelling, he put you completely at ease, which allowed him to capture your spirit in his portraits. Some will say that it was the way he used light to capture his subject’s eyes, but there was no formula for how he did it. It was his special gift. Darton was respected in the photographic industry and spent the later part of his career sharing his knowledge of lighting on an international stage. He was recognized as Portrait Photographer of the Year in Wisconsin for 7 different years. He has had published works in the Professional Photographers of America Loan Collection books and his work was also displayed at Epcot.
“Darton was a genius in his work, but as is often the case, that genius came with a price. Dart made choices in his life that were not always understood by those who loved him. Darton had a dark side as most geniuses do. Some of his most moving images were from that “dark” place. That side of him ate at him in ways many of us will never know. But I think that side of him no doubt also drove him to create works that were soaring masterpieces. So we have to thank him for whatever it was that caused him to create those images we adore.” (As written by his dear friend Fuzzy Duenkel).
Darton’s images were always heavy on emotion. When digital first appeared, he shunned it, saying, “Where’s the “emotion” button on that digital camera?” But soon he changed his mind, knowing full well it wasn’t the tool, it was the artist who creates. And create with it he did. Digital became another mind-blowing experiment that helped express the secrets within his soul.
As mentioned, Dart was a wonderful storyteller, often telling stories of life growing up in Baraboo. One such story involved a worried neighbor who called Charlotte to tell her, “Darton is up in a tree again and he is going to get hurt.” Dart’s mom replied with, “Well, he’ll come down when he is ready”. Darton loved telling that story because it highlighted not only his carefree, fun-loving spirt but his mother’s as well. Some of his fondest memories from Baraboo High School and his young adult life were the times he spent with his dear friends Scott Hill and Craig Sauey, and the “Vikings”.
Darton attended Madison Area Technical School and Layton School of Art receiving a degree in commercial art. He studied photography with Frank Scherschel a former Life magazine photographer who owned a camera shop in Baraboo. He loved the artistic works of Rembrandt, Andrew Wyeth, John Singer Sargent, Edward Steichen and Josef Karsh.
Darton was a photographer for greater than 40 years and said he never worked a day in his life that he just took portraits. He loved his art and sharing it with others. He also loved riding his Harley, bass fishing, painting miniature models and strategic war board games.
Darton is survived by his children Nissa Drake (Megan), Caleb Drake and their mother, Sandra Seufzer Rath; Samuel Darton Drake and his mother, Teresa Atkinson; ex-wife Carolyn Tretina; his grandchild Thomas; and his sister, Carla Drake – Williams (Tom). He was preceded in death by his parents Glen and Charlotte Drake.
Someday, if they don’t already, people will consider Darton’s portraits to be in the same league as many of the classic artists throughout history.
As Darton said, “I’m not a part of this world. I’m just passing through it.” We are all grateful that he passed through our worlds.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. Darton will be buried at Walnut Hill Cemetery next to his loving parents.
You will be dearly missed Darton. You were loved by so many!