Somewhere in downtown Tucson, on South Stone Avenue, is this pretty little stretch of road. Most of it has been resurfaced, re-worked, restored, renewed. It’s polished and shiny today, but I was there several years ago and captured a lot of photographs of the neighborhood before everything was changed. In the summer, during the July monsoon, this part of town was devoid of people – it was quiet, with no traffic, and every building was covered in street art. I would ride my bike down here pretty often, even though I lived north of midtown at the time, to walk around with my camera.
It’s vandalism, sure. It may represent poverty or a devalued neighborhood. It may be considered by some to be ugly. I never really saw that. I always thought that the evolving canvas of these downtown buildings was beautiful. Here’s just one small little taste.
“Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts.”
There’s no place I enjoy more than a back-road or alley. Old paint and little remnants from the past linger in these places. Old signs and chipped signs, reminders of a world that used to be, spark my imagination. In a culture over-obsessed with knocking down the old and building the new, disregarding legacy objects and replacing the obsolete with the shiny and new, I enjoy having the opportunity to walk where thousands have walked before and seeing what they may have seen…
This is one of my more elaborate designs from this series. The textures and compositions of back-alleys – behind store fronts, grease traps from restaurants, and rusted dumpsters – have always fascinated me. These are the areas we ignore, behind the neon and spruced-up facade of our local shopping centers, and I like taking my camera to the places that are right there, practically right in front of us, but that we ignore.
I will likely be publishing this as a completed series sometime soon, so please to check back in if you find these interesting.
I can’t really justify it, and I typically don’t spend a terrible amount of time at home mapping-out symbolism and structure to my series, but that’s just the way it goes. On the surface it might sound unwise, haphazard, and foolish for a visual artist to operate almost entirely from instinct – and that’s probably an accurate assessment. But I hate the stuffy pretensions and relentless insistence that everything has to mean a specific thing. I’ve never been the kind of creator that felt the need to bludgeon his audience with ideas of how they ought to feel about the images he makes.
Half the time I don’t even have a vague idea why I’m drawn to certain types of imagery. I walk around with my camera discover interesting objects and textures, and I make pictures of them. Over time, themes bubble to the surface and I spend some time looking at these themes and I try just as hard as anybody else might – probably harder – to try and figure out what it is that draws me to certain subjects.
Electrical boxes, storefronts, garbage bins, and gas meters? They attract me. Could they be symbols of our interconnectedness – interlocking roadways, an electrical grid, a dependence on natural gas? Maybe that’s what it is. Is it the uniform right angles, the unnatural ninety-degree angle that divides us from the rest of the natural world? Sure. Why not, right? Whatever the seed is for this curiosity, I find these things incredibly fascinating, and I’ve been thinking about them and photographing them for over a decade.