Travel always brings the questions:
“What are people doing for a living here? How many people exist in one house? How do they relate to the land? How much money does a household live on? What about education and healthcare? Did they stay there all their lives”?
The possible answers have led to my own made-up final destination composed of simple houses, farms, or neighborhoods usually in disrepair. Of course there is rust, peeling paint, broken windows, and rotting wood. These sites have been discarded for better economic growth and less conflict somewhere else. You see, I know something about these kinds of fading places. My parents and grandparents came from poverty and lived blue-collar, ramshackle lives…survivors of the Great Depression. I mean dirt floors and baths once a week on Saturday nights. I have visited hundreds of these sorts of places and all hold a continuing fascination. The commonality is that all the shelters are simple shapes usually made with mostly hand tools. Rooflines and front porches remain important and nearby towns always have a main street.
These places were visited, then sketched, photographed, remembered, or discovered in some kind of archive. The structures become the focus of paintings and represent lives passed over…dreams extinct. Usually halfway through the concocted art, the paint process takes over. Color has its own direction and new variations suddenly appear. Chisels, electric sanders, grinders, drywall knives are brought out to redefine the image. Marks disturb the surface. Redos are evident, occurring over and over again. Construction lines show scars of false beginnings. Buildings stretch or shrink, windows and doorways are added or subtracted, darkened or lightened. Shapes are reduced. Skies are bigger, smaller, grayer or brighter. Color and composition is the new boss. I am only the interpreter and assembling all the responses of these disparate buildings from Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Mexico, Portugal, Germany, Italy, New Mexico, Wyoming, Georgia, the Carolinas, etc. and relocating them to one site…Akers Gap (of course it is named after me…it is my journey after all). It is a conglomeration of lives imagined.