Iconic rockers gathered in a Wayland backyard via a socially distant photo gallery

"I wanted people to feel easy about being where they were, get some fresh air and smile," said photographer Allan Dines.

A scenic-overview of Dines' art gallery in his backyard in Wayland, MA.
A scenic-overview of Dines' art gallery in his backyard in Wayland, MA. –Allan Dines

A few years ago, photographer Allan Dines was sitting on his back porch, drinking his usual morning coffee, when an idea popped into his head. As he looked out into his backyard in Wayland, he envisioned his images, ones he had shot in the late 1990s of  Sting, Bon Jovi, Aretha Franklin, Aerosmith and others, hanging up in the trees for people to see.

The idea didn’t come into fruition until recently, when the COVID-19 pandemic gave Dines more time and energy to take on projects. He starting putting his older work on display at the Wayland Public Library, and also hung some photographs in his front yard, finally settling on the idea to open up the gallery right in his backyard.

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Entitled “Art in My Yard,” the exhibit was free and open to the public on Wednesday and Thursday. Any proceeds collected were donated to the Greater Boston Food Bank.

A scenic-overview of Dines’ art gallery in his backyard in Wayland, MA. —Allan Dines

 Dines said over the phone on Thursday that he wanted his gallery to provide a good experience to people during a stressful time.

“I wanted people to feel easy about being where they were, get some fresh air and smile,” he said, adding, “The pandemic didn’t change what was in my head, but it did prompt me because I had the time, the energy to do it and to make it happen.”

Once he finally settled on the idea, Dines contacted someone he knew at the Metro West Daily News, who did a piece on him that was eventually picked up by WBZ CBS Boston. News spread throughout Massachusetts, and over the course of the exhibit his gallery has attracted visitors from all around the state, including Milton, Quincy, Dedham, Boston and Marlborough.

In light of the virus, Dines required all visitors to wear a mask and  social distance while viewing the photographs. 

His gallery displayed 33 photographs from Dines’ extensive collection. After picking up photography in his late 30s, Dines taught himself how to build his own darkroom and began immersing himself in the music scene around Boston in the late 1990s. After shooting at clubs such as House of Blues and the Hard Rock Cafe, he would return to his dark room, enamored by the images that developed before his eyes.

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“The images that were coming up were pretty special,” Dines said. “They were House of Blues regulars. Matt “Guitar” Murphy, all these blues guys that were making the tour at that point were all coming through Boston … The dark room really was magic, it’s where things that weren’t there suddenly appeared.”

Billy Idol, who Dines shot in 1995. —Allan Dines

As the years went on, Dines said he has had to take up more corporate photography gigs to help pay the bills, shooting for organizations such as the American Diabetes Association and Boston University’s special collections. He has spent the past three years developing his own technique of abstract photography, called digital ceramics, where he mounts images onto tempered glass that can be used for windows, indoors or outdoors, as backsplashes. 

While he has not shot music photography in over 10 years, he said it’s been rewarding to see his art gallery, featuring his earlier work, come to life: “When I sat down at the end of the day yesterday and saw everything hanging the way I had seen it in my head, it was really wonderful.”

Check out some of Allan Dines’ photographs displayed in his gallery:

Steven Tyler, 1995. —Allan Dines
Aretha Franklin, 1995. —Allan Dines
Elvis Costello, 1999. —Dines
Brad Delp from the band Boston playing at the House of Blues, 1994. —Allan Dines
David Lee Roth, 2002. —Dines
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