Craig Blacklock's Burn Recovery

Craig and Honey at one-day-only event at Gallery 13. Thank you to the Sugarmans for making the space available, and to everyone who helped us celebrate! If you missed the KARE 11 news interview, here is the link:
http://www.kare11.com/story/news/local/2015/06/22/renowned-north-shore-photographer-opens-first-exhibition-since-being-burned/29122115/

Note that this site will come down at the end of June. Further news will be available on Craig's Facebook pages and at www.blacklockgallery.com.

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On November 16, 2014 Minnesota landscape photographer, Craig Blacklock, was badly burned in a North Shore sauna in an electrical fire caused by a faulty circuit breaker. He suffered 3rd degree burns to his hands, wrists, and right forearm, and 2nd degree burns to his face, ears, neck and back. He spent a week in Intensive Care and two more “in isolation” in a hospital burn center.
On the day after Thanksgiving, he underwent skin graft surgery on his hands and right arm and a week later was discharged into his wife Honey’s care. Honey spent many hours each day for weeks changing Craig’s dressings and was present 24 hours a day to help with all his needs. This was on top of the usual responsibilities of life with a busy 13-year-old daughter, three pets, a wood-heated home, and their  Blacklock Photography Gallery  in Moose Lake. Yes, a great deal of help was offered and received, for which they are deeply grateful! But so much of what Craig and Honey usually do together fell (and continues to fall) on Honey’s shoulders — especially exhausting for someone with Multiple Sclerosis.

Craig has made remarkable progress in the last few weeks. He can now do push-ups and pull-ups and run to get back in shape for this summer's photography. He plays the guitar and piano for physical and emotional therapy. The burns on his face, ears and neck have healed with minimal scars. It’s his hands that are recovering more slowly. He still does OT 3 days a week, and is constantly stretching to regain flexibility. 

Like many self-employed artists, the Blacklocks’ business was severely impacted by the recent recession and then Craig was burned in the accident! They lost several months of business during the holiday season — usually their busiest time of year. They had to cancel or turn down many income-producing opportunities and he missed an entire season of photographing winter landscapes.

By March Craig returned to editing photographs at his computer fulltime. However, to create the images so many of us love, he needs to be able to hike with many pounds of equipment — still and video cameras, lenses, and 2 tripods. His usual summers involve long-distance trips by kayak or canoe in wilderness areas. The coming summer remains uncertain. His skin grafts are safely established, but still fragile.

Craig and Honey live simply and try to do things right. One of those things is disability insurance, which Craig has had for 30 years. However, those policies have 6-month deductible periods, thus he will not receive any benefits from them and because he is self-employed, he has no worker’s compensation. Luckily their health insurance will pay for most of Craig’s medical bills. But they’ve had many extra expenses — like all the trips to Duluth to visit him in the hospital, many trips for doctors’ appointments after Craig’s discharge and many over-the-counter medical supplies. He must wear compression gloves for 23 hours a day for a year to reduce scarring. To jump-start the compression he needs several pairs lined with silicon, made by only one “out-of-network” company in Arizona. For now, the Blacklocks must pay $600 for each pair of gloves. Additionally, Honey’s time and care giving will never be reimbursed by their health insurance, even though she provided a tremendous savings to BlueCross for her weeks of wound care. Time she otherwise could have put in working at their gallery.

The Blacklocks know they are lucky. Craig survived the fire and didn’t die of hypothermia when he passed out in the snow after his escape from the burning building ­— temps were well below zero that night. He does not remember actually getting burned, so he hasn’t had traumatic flashbacks. Craig got quick and expert medical treatment, and wonderful support from friends and family. His weeks in the hospital and personal experiences as a burn patient gave him so many ideas for future work. He’s especially anxious to continue his collaboration with the University of MN’s  Center for Spirituality and Healing , and possibly the American Burn Association, to create nature videos specifically to help other burn patients recover. In the mean time, Craig is making the most of his “convalescence”, working like crazy, editing images that “piled up” on hard-drives over the last five years. With the funds that have already come in, Craig is printing and framing new images for a one day/evening benefit exhibition that will be June 24th from 7-10 at Gallery 13 in Minneapolis (see link below).

People frequently walk into their gallery asking for donations of his artwork for fundraisers. Often it is a family member of someone in a medical crisis soliciting donations. Craig and Honey regularly donate their books to these causes. To some causes they’ll donate framed prints or a weekend of photography lessons. Their “good will” donations can add up to thousands of dollars of retail value annually. And on a much larger scale, for the last two decades the Blacklock family has donated much heart, time, and money to the nonprofit Blacklock Nature Sanctuary (BNS), which protects over 500 acres of wild land in Moose Lake and a half-mile of shoreline on Lake Superior. For more than a decade BNS (with funding help from Jerome Foundation) provided more than a hundred and fifty artists with 1-week to 1-month residencies to immerse themselves in nature and creative time. Craig and Honey acted as tour-guides and hosts to their short-term, artist neighbors.

Many of us have been inspired and soothed by Craig’s photographs and videos for years. He’s been a teacher  and mentor to countless photography students for decades. After years of giving to others, Craig and his family find themselves in a position where they need some help through the uncertain first year after his burns. Their income was slashed by the accident, while all life’s usual expenses, and the added ones from Craig’s burns, continue. They will be very grateful and humbled by any support we can provide them as they work to recover from this horrible accident.

Recent photo of Craig in front of sauna. Electrical fire started outside the back door— the one he went out. That door was furthest from the sauna stove, and thus Craig, thinking fire was started by the stove, felt it should have been the safest exit from the sauna. All he remembers, is opening the door, then coming to, face down in the snow, 20 feet outside the sauna.

Other ways you can help:

• Make a tax-deductible donation to Blacklock Nature Sanctuary to help defray the $22,000 in annual property taxes it pays: P.O. Box 426, Moose Lake, MN 55767.

• Purchase Craig's books or photographs at his gallery in Moose Lake, or through his web site: blacklockgallery.com .

• Sign up for one of Craig's photography workshops on Lake Powell:  Here is the link

Honey and Craig, taken May 1st. Craig's face is now nearly scar-free, with a lot fewer wrinkles than before the burns!

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Organizer

Craig Blacklock 
Organizer
Moose Lake, MN
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