In 1969, after amateur activities, Dick Arentz began three years of study with Phil Davis of the Photography Department at the UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN. His interest at that time, was in the large format silver contact print. As an informal “thesis,” he produced the Death Valley Portfolio in 1972. That was reproduced in a 1973 issue of Camera Magazine
After a sabbatical in Europe in 1973, Dick Arentz relocated in Flagstaff, Arizona where he taught studio and photographic history at NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY. In 1978, He was selected by the Arts and Humanities Commission as one of TWENTY ARIZONA ARTISTS. That year he began a six year project which was to be published as Four Corners Country in 1986, partly subsidized by a EDNA RIDER WHITEMAN FOUNDATION GRANT. The book was reissued in soft cover in 1994.
He returned to Ann Arbor in 1980 to study the platinum process with Phil Davis. Because of the lack of published information and the unpredictability of materials, he began researching and writing about platinum and palladium techniques. In 1983, he began to produce negatives with an antique 12×20 Folmer and Schwing Camera. By 1985, major museums and corporations began to collect his work. In 1987, he produced The American Southwest, a limited edition portfolio of 12×20 platinum prints with an essay by James Enyeart.
In 1988, desirous of a change in subject matter, Arentz accepted an ISAAC W. BERNHEIM FELLOWSHIP to live and work in Kentucky. He began a two year project photographing the Midsouthern states and Appalachia, concentrating on the human effect of the landscape. In 1990, a traveling exhibition and catalogue of that work, Outside The Mainstream, with an introduction by Merry Foresta, was funded by the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS.
Arentz continue to publish and teach the techniques of platinum and palladium printing. In 1990, he produced the 2nd edition of his textbook, An Outline For Platinum And Palladium Printing. As a result of his research, he was able to solve a problem that has plagued non-silver printers for years with the formulation of specifications to allow a major paper company to manufacture a paper suitable for these photographic processes.
In 1990, Dick Arentz was one of four Arizona artists selected for the PHOENIX ART MUSEUM TRIENNIAL EXHIBITION. In 1992, he was included in Between Home And Heaven, Contemporary American Landscape Photographers, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART. In England, During 1994-95, Arentz exhibited at the FOX-TALBOT MUSEUM and A Positive View at the SAATCHI GALLERY. In 1996, he accepted a fellowship from THE COLUMBUS ART MUSEUM to create a portfolio of central Ohio.
In 1998, a collection of his work from continental Europe, The Grand Tour, with an essay by Tom Southall, was published by Nazraeli Press. Platinum & Palladium Printing was published by Focal Press in 1999.
In a twenty five year career, Dick Arentz has had over seventy-five one man exhibits in museums and private galleries. Since 1984 has conducted approximately thirty platinum printing workshops, included those at THE CENTER FOR CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY, THE MUSEUM OF PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTS and THE FRIENDS OF PHOTOGRAPHY.