It's true, it's true. I am going to show some of my photographs at the Boneyard this year. Thanks to my friend Ella, and some others, who encouraged me to do this. I needed to reset my head after the last year or two and driving in the country helped me do it. This, among other things, is the result.
I will be in the Taproom at 25 O'Clock (on Griggs, by the Boneyard in downtown Urbana, just west of Race Street. Just look for the purple and yellow building. Hours are 5 pm to midnight on Friday, April 5, and I think all day on Saturday, but will confirm. I am indebted to my beloved Tom Sheehan from 25 O'Clock for allowing me to do this. I will share the Taproom with Bree Sykes, and in the annex gallery, Jodi Birdwell, Ann Coddington, and Peg Shaw will be showing their work.
Here is the statement I wrote about my photos. Driving on all these backroads has been thought provoking to say the least.
Photographic Glimpses of the Midwestern Cultural Landscape
Landscape is history made visible.
-J. B. Jackson
In a society that is ever more telling us not to accumulate, to unclutter, to look ahead, I am an inveterate collector and lover of things, and of looking back. I love the way our society and our history, both good and bad, are reflected in objects and our built environment. I find myself drawn to small towns and the remnants of all our pasts, both recent and long gone. I can feel the memories there, even though they aren’t my own memories. Both loneliness and hope pull me to these landscapes. The innocent cheer of neon, the loneliness of abandoned buildings, and the quiet confidence of vernacular architecture, all these things compel me to document them, make me want to listen to them, to hear them.
It clears my head to drive on back roads. There is something to be learned from observing these landscapes. The layers of different times and businesses collide. The alienation and splintering of our society are laid out in front of our eyes. I drive through these towns and see POW flags in empty storefronts, occasionally a Confederate flag. Sometimes a car will pull over when I’ve stopped to take a picture. I get ready to apologize for trespassing or being in the way, but they are always there to see if I need help. Our society is laid out in front of me; as is the shift from small businesses, towns, and farms, to industrial agriculture, and the resultant economic changes and rural exodus.
These glimpses are much more than merely old buildings or signs. They make us question not only what happened in the past, but also what lies ahead.