Local

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Firs Bowl, January Morning

When I was an art major a long time ago, I spent a lot of energy worrying about the meaning and purpose of my paintings. Something like that is going on again with my photographs, but this time with no professors asking me to defend my work.  It’s just me on my own, bothering myself. Am I documenting the changing landscape of Eugene? You know, deliberately? Or maybe I’m commenting on the American Dream, or the state of capitalism, or urban sprawl.

I don’t want to do any of those things, at least not on purpose. Every time I construct an intellectual scaffolding around my artistic work in any medium, I end up in a silly and painful tangle of internal arguments. And I stop making work.

The truth is I’m drawn by what looks beautiful to me. Mysterious. Often this seems to be the result of some combination of artificial lights and temporary emptiness. And a strong emotional reaction to the place as a place: This place–building, lot, landscape–couldn’t look like this anywhere else. As fast as we build standardized, lookalike strip malls and fast food franchises, nature moves steadily and with irresistible force, beating on walls with rain and wind, depositing mold spores in siding and rust on roof vents, sending up moss and grasses through cracks in the asphalt. Everything is local.