“When the artist is alive in any person, whatever her kind of work may be, she becomes inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive and creative. She becomes interesting to other people. She disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and she opens ways for a better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book she opens it, shows there are still more pages possible.”
(Originally published July 15, 2016)
This small elevator complex just as you are coming into Texico from the west is one that I have photographed a number of times over the years. I believe one of the first times was probably twenty years or so ago with my Zone VI 4X5 view camera. Time, the elements and man have taken their toll on it since that time. But I seem to keep coming back to it, looking at it from different angles with a constantly maturing artist’s eye.
This particular image was produced with my iPhone and a panoramic stitching app. I got up close and personal and panned around taking a number of shots to stitch together. This result really captivated me. I would normally try to crop and warp the image to get back to a perspective that the eye would expect to see, but this image asked to be left as it was. I used a retouching app to paint out a couple of distracting power lines and added some texture to give it the ethereal feel and I felt that I was done.
There is no doubt that grain elevators are a recurring theme in my photographs. I have mentioned before that I liken these images to portraits. Each one of these structures have features and qualities to them that makes them all unique. There are a number of basic design concepts that you can see in them, but then there is always something that is added or tweaked to meet a particular need of the location that gives it it’s own special character.
Stories. They each have them in their pasts. But they are pasts that are mostly long gone and forgotten now. They served this country of ours well in the process of feeding it and sustaining it’s growth and development. That growth and development ultimately made them obsolete though as new and improved means of moving our food supply came into use.
Fortunately, in my opinion at least, they have been largely left to stand their vigils along the tracks and age with stoic beauty. Built to stand the rigors of time and use they are still for the most part structurally sound, and the cost of taking them down outweighs that of simply leaving them in peace to watch time march on.
And for those open to pondering the rich stories to be imagined and enjoyed they are there to serve as seeds. Just as the old window shade hinting at the stories inside, the cross in the sand left by someone wanting to say something, and the many Descansos along the roadways telling their stories of those departed as well as those who placed them. To me this image speaks in many ways to something that Robert Henri wrote about artists, creativity and expression: