Artist Sorts Through A Lifetime Of Photographs To Create One Snapshot

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One man’s quest to preserve his own legacy has blossomed into a new life passion and business venture.

Now Shakey Walls (real name Bruce Schaeffer) hopes to take his digital montage art form and preserve the history of fallen soldiers.

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Alexis Bechman

Shakey Walls

On any given day, you can find Walls, sitting at his computer cropping and altering photos. Walls takes anywhere from 25 to more than 75 photographs, digitally crops them and pieces them together like an electronic jigsaw puzzle, creating an “all in one” montage of an individual’s or family’s life.

Walls said he got the idea for the montages in 1993 after going through his own boxes of family photographs. As a lifelong artist, Walls knew he could do something to both preserve and highlight these memories.

Using an exacto knife, Walls cut photos out and pasted them together, much like a scrapbook maker.

“It comes very natural for me — cutting and pasting,” he said.

When Walls got a computer, he used the same process, except the photographs were no longer physically altered.

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Alexis Bechman/Roundup

Shakey Walls’ coffee table at his Payson home is covered with montages. From John Lennon and Elvis, to ordinary people, Walls has crafted many collages. Walls uses anywhere from 25 to more than 75 photographs for each montage.

Today, Walls meticulously crops each image out using Photoshop and then blends and shades them. It can take as much as a few hours to alter one photo. When all of the photographs are cropped, they are grouped together in an eye-pleasing way.

After finishing his first montage, Walls stepped back and marveled at his own strange life story.

Walls, 74, was adopted as a child and after spending time in foster homes, left home for good at 17. His life took many dips and valleys as he traveled around the country as a musician.

When he settled in the Valley, Walls was estranged from most of his children and remaining family.

Walls said he did not want his family to forget him or wonder who he was.

“I didn’t want to be forgotten,” he said. “No one ever knew of me, but when I put these together I could show where I had been.”

After creating montages using celebrity images, such as John Lennon and Elvis, to his own family members, Walls got a new assignment.

Last year, his nephew died while serving in Afghanistan.

The tragedy brought Walls segmented family together.

“We are all so proud of this one guy,” he said.

Walls knew he wanted to do something to honor his courageous nephew, so he created a montage of his life.

At the funeral, Walls handed the laminated images out. Everyone marveled at them and some suggested Walls create them for other fallen heroes.

“I want to do something for someone else, I want to give back,” he said.

Walls is working to get a grant to create the montages for other soldier’s families, but is finding it hard to secure funding.

Anyone interested in a montage of a fallen hero can contact Walls at (928) 951-6435.

Walls also offers montages to anyone wanting to celebrate their own or their family’s life. He also offers photo restoration, pocket watch designs, Giclee prints and woodcarvings.

For more information, visit www.shakeywalls.com or e-mail bwalls36@gmail.com.

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