The Lansdowne Theater

When I started photographing these abandoned places I was most interested in the dark side: the ugly underbelly of society turned beautiful by the camera’s eye. I photographed Pennhurst – an abandoned children’s asylum – with great excitement. The idea of exploring a place where so much life had gone wrong filled me with a strange power, perhaps akin to that idea of wrestling with our own demons. But afterwards I was reluctant to share the photographs. The empty, sheeted bed with the peeling walls behind it was so incredibly sad – and the bed itself a kind of relief map of those who had used it. I was almost embarrassed by bearing witness to the stark devastation of this place; not just the walls but the human spirits that seemed to haunt Pennhurst.

Photographing this theater is at the opposite side of that experience spectrum. The paint is faded, yes – the artifacts sit in silent storage. But they remind us of an era of opulence. The portrait of the projectionist hangs on the wall above his private sink in the projector room, celebrating and honoring his life. The machinery of the then state-of-the-art projectors is cheery with its red and yellow lettering, the bakelite knobs. And the theater is owned by a non profit organization that is actively restoring it as a music venue – hope abounds.

I don’t know if the experiences of photographing these two places and my responses to them are a map of my own psyche or not, but I’ve learned a lot about what moves me as an artist, and I’m looking forward to exploring that more.

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New Orleans

These are all from a trip to New Orleans a friend and I took this past week. The vibrant color is real and aptly represents the positive energy of the neighborhoods we visited. Most of these were taken in the Bywater, some in the Warehouse District.

 

The Trolly Graveyard

This was one of the most fun and rewarding shoots I’ve done since I started the abandoned series. We went to a trolly graveyard in the rust belt. The owner of the trains collects these full-sized original train, trolly cars and buses and he keeps them on his property. They have taken on a lovely patina, and I’m intrigued by the way the sunlight describes the interiors of the cars. Enjoy!

Round 2 – Catskills!

Cheryl, Cris and I spent an hour or so looking for Tamarack Lodge, a former vacation spot in the Catskills. The Lodge started out as a B and B and evolved into a resort that almost, but didn’t quite, rival Grossinger’s and Kutsher’s. The resort has passed through several lives in recent years, including one as an Indian Casino. It’s now owned by the local Yeshiva, and seems to be in line to become a condo development, but that remains to be seen.

We finally found the site and walked in to begin photographing. There was abundant decay, but in among the rubble also evidence of good times. It looked like it was once a really nice, peaceful retreat.

These are just a few of the images captured that day.

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The Elevator Shaft
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Bathroom Tiles
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The Pool
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The Pink Room
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The Blue Room
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Seen through the Air Conditioner Slot
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GasBoy: No Smoking
Passageway
Passageway

 

Headboards
Headboards
Poolside
Poolside
Overview
Overview

A Few More Photographs from Grossinger’s

Outside Looking In
Outside Looking In
Full View Natatorium
Full View Natatorium
Broken Glass
Broken Glass
Chaise x 3
Chaise x 3
Red Apple Rest II
Red Apple Rest II
To the Locker Rooms
To the Locker Rooms
No Trespassing
No Trespassing

Our Trip to the Catskills

Cheryl and I took a wonderful day trip to the Catskills last week. Our first stop was at our favorite roadside restaurant. After spending the better part of an hour enjoying the peeling paint, signage, barbed wire and grapevines we headed up to our favorite resort. There we visited the greenhouse and potting shed, spent some time at the indoor skating rink and in the game house. We moved on to the natatorium where we relaxed and whiled away an hour or so by the pool. Finally we wound our way up to the hotel and visited several rooms. Not much happening there so – back outside to explore the grounds a bit before heading home. I love the Catskills!

 

the Red Apple Rest
the Red Apple Rest
Looking In
Looking In
The Greenhouse
The Greenhouse
Blue Gloves in the Potting Shed
Blue Gloves in the Potting Shed
Skating Pavillion
Skating Pavilion
The Shallow End
The Shallow End
Diving Board
Diving Board
Window Splendor
Window Splendor
To the Hotel
To the Hotel
Piney Mattress
Piney Mattress

 

     

More Images from the Children’s Home

Shooting and working on these photographs was a somber process. While in the buildings I was struck by the presence of the past; it was as if the patients were still there in spirit, looking over my shoulder and protecting themselves and the space. I was careful not to disturb anything – as careful as one would be in a friend’s home. There were toys and dolls around each corner – it’s likely many of these were props used by other photographers – but, still, I left them just so. Processing the images was a journey in itself. There were some surprises and some unexpected finds. I hope that my reverence for what these images represent shows through. They aren’t meant to exploit, but to pay homage.

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Tweety Bird
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Phantom
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After the Fire
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The Showers
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Tranquilizers
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Happy and Luke
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The Crib Room

 

Abandoned Zoo

This trip was the perfect antidote to the children’s asylum in the previous post. Beautiful weather, full access to the grounds and a very positive vibe at the site all contributed to a great day to explore and photograph. Plus I met a baby wallaby. I didn’t photograph her; she was very shy and I didn’t want to frighten her.