Beauty Is History

This particular project started out as a lot of different things - urban details, urban and rural decay, street art - but they all coalesced into one project when I heard the below quote in an Art:21 episode:

I find beauty in odd places - sometimes I’m driving or walking and I might just stop and freeze. Maybe a sign or the way the light hits a building - the way that a shadow is thrown across the street.

I think beauty embodies what we consider ugly, as well as what we consider beautiful. For me, beauty is history, beauty is having lived, beauty is evidence...it’s a mark.
— Michael Ray Charles
Texan Motel (Raton, New Mexico). 

Texan Motel (Raton, New Mexico). 

I think I actually pointed at the screen and said, "that's IT...that's WHY". It was one of those awesome moments when you hear words you'd been trying to come up with for ages coming out of someone else's mouth. 

I am fascinated by the marks people leave on the world, on their cities and towns. Those marks are the evidence that we were here, that we existed. I feel as though I am having a conversation with someone who may already be long gone, and saying to them, "you made this, and you might think it was forgotten, but I have not forgotten it. And maybe, because I took this picture, others will remember too."

To me, this photography is preserving the story of our landscapes and our surroundings. I feel more like a historian when I do it than a photographer.

Perhaps that's a little bit lofty and esoteric of a view to take when it comes to old street signs, hotels, and run-down buildings. :) But when I look back at photos for this project, even though I haven't been at this too long, I already see several murals that no longer exist, a couple of buildings that have been leveled, etc. So maybe what I am shooting is not important - but, maybe it is.

The King's Court Lounge (Denver, Colorado). This building has since been remodeled and no longer looks like this.

The King's Court Lounge (Denver, Colorado). This building has since been remodeled and no longer looks like this.

I like things that are handmade, and I like to see people’s hand in the world...you can see a hand-painted sign that is kind of funky and maybe that person, if they had money, would prefer to have a neon sign. But I don’t prefer that. I think it’s beautiful what they did and that they did it themselves. THAT’S what I find beautiful. Often in the city there are so many things to look at, and so many things going on, that you don’t see those things.

But I see those things.
— Margaret Kilgallen