One of the things I love about my Flickr photostream are the intermittent gifts from my contacts. Fotoedge’s images regularly provide me with a beautifully textured and preserved Americana of the Mid-West. Whenever he uploads a new photo I am sure to spend some time thinking about the relationship between our state of mind and the built environment. Which will ultimately lead me to consider the horrifically unimaginative design of most recent development, and then a melancholic reflection upon the loss of so much beauty in the seemingly irrepressible push for more and newer developments that are rapidly convulsing the landscape we currently inhabit (not unlike Fyodor Dostoevsky’s description of the train tracks that cross and re-cross the landscape of Europe like a huge, tortuous scar in his novel The Idiot).
Another photostream that gives me untold delight is James Spadacinni’s Flickr project that occasionally features new images from the John Collier Jr. collection -which are an integral part of The American Image exhibit at the University of New Mexico. These photos are intermittent gems from the public archive that propel me into a kind of hypnotic re-imagining of the vast landscape of the US during the 1930s and 40s. I am continually struck by John Collier Jr’s uncanny ability to capture and preserve such a compellingly hopeful cross-section of the North American landscape and its people -often invoking the spirit of endurance and humanity I associate with the greatest novels of William Faulkner. The late photographer moves so seamlessly from Portuguese fisherman in New England to Hispanic Ranchers in New Mexico to Mennonite’s at a farm auction in Pennsylvania to the slums of West Virginia to white collar gentlemen on a train in the deep South. It is truly an amazing visual journey through time and space and I feel fortunate to get these gifts from Flickr with some regularity. It makes me feel connected to a national past held together by the sinews of difference that accentuate the variegated beauty of this space -feelings and emotions I am in sore need of during these dark days.
So, in the spirit of sharing, below are twelve of my recent favorites…
1. Portuguese dory fisherman and his grandaughter, 2. Farm auction, 3. Cow and calf on farm, 4. Whiling away the time through the Deep South, 5. Workers’ homes., 6. An Hispanic rancher, 7. Mennonite attending farm auction, 8. Slums, 9. Portuguese surf boat crew, 10. Father Cassidy and parishioner, 11. Hispanic woman, 12. A patient at the clinic