ENID, OKLAHOMA --He got his first really good camera in 1976.
Over more than 40 years, Mike Klemme has captured millions of images, too many to accurately count.
The archive continues to grow from his office and frame shop in downtown Enid.
"Several million," he chuckles. "I'm not a counter."
That first image is still on file.
The books he's produced over the years, and over most of the world, the newest ones too.
They're all here somewhere among a group of buildings his family owns just a few blocks off the court-house square.
Klemme continues, "I never dreamed that I would be a framer. I never dreamed that I would print my own work. But with the technology available these days it makes it easy to do that."
You might recognize Klemme's Oklahoma photographs if you've ever paused in the hallway of an Integris Hospital or in any public building in Enid.
He's put his huge archive to good use.
But on the front half of these old industrial buildings, on the last of the brick streets in town, Mike had some other ideas for this storefront.
"How big is this space," asks a gallery visitor?
"About 1,800 square feet," answers Mike. "This was the Ruud Hardware Building."
He and another artist from Enid, Romy Owens, started knocking around the idea of a gallery space here, something they both agreed the city needed.
She observes, "I think it's such a nice contrast between polished art and history."
Owens herself has a huge archive of photographs and fiber art to her name.
She's been busy since the gallery plans firmed up, putting together a whole new series of pieces.
"I've been working on these string studies for a few months now," she says in her kitchen studio.
Klemme and Owens asked well-known Enid painter Amanda La Munyon to join them.
They also sought out Catherine Freshley, a landscape painter with strong Oklahoma ties.
Down the road a ways, Klemme, Owens, and some of Enid's other bright lights are hoping this little neighborhood becomes a real arts district in Northwest Oklahoma.
They say you just have to 'picture' it.
The Grand Opening of the Klemme Gallery and Events space is scheduled for the evening of November 29, 2018.
For more information on the art of Mike Klemme go to www.mikeklemme.com
For Romy Owens https://www.romyowens.com/
For Amanda LaMunyon https://amandalamunyon.com/
For Catherine Freshley https://catherinefreshleyart.com/