Filtering by Tag: Jim Dow

Jim Dow Exhibition at the Haggerty Museum

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Exhibition Press Release from the Haggerty Museum-

''Over a span of forty years, photographer Jim Dow embarked on countless road trips across America, a paradigm informed by the legacy of photographer Walker Evans, to realize the series American Studies. Represented in the Haggerty Museum collection with photographs taken from 1978 to 1998, this body of work captures the spirit of our environment but also documents the impermanence of our ever-changing visual landscape. Equipped with an 8 x 10 camera, Dow sought to document the idiosyncratic qualities of banal sites—from motels and roadside diners to barbershops and storefront windows. While it is tempting to interpret Dow’s unpeopled photographs as signifiers of loss, the work relies heavily on the stories and sensibilities of individuals standing just outside the frame. The locations he chooses as subjects are never empty; they hold the potential for social engagement and community interaction, and it is in this way that Dow’s detailed, carefully composed images evoke a shared experience of the everyday. These portraits of place serve as compelling visual records of fading regional traditions, subcultures, and rituals that comprise a particular version of our universal and uniquely “American” experience.''

Jim Dow -Financial Times

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The New York Rib House. US 301, Allendale, South Carolina, 1998

The more smoke and neon, the better the barbecue. Next to peanut butter, it is America’s national food, with more varieties than there are states in the union. Death and taxes aren’t the great levellers, barbecue is. At the Bob Sykes Barbecue in Bessemer, Alamaba, the guy picking his teeth with a toothpick is just as likely to be the president of the city’s famous steelworks as a worker at the blast furnace.

Back in the 1960s, Martin Luther King used to gnaw on ribs at Aleck’s Barbecue Heaven, Atlanta. Nowadays hedge fund honchos pick up orders to take on their private jets. Wilber’s Barbecue in Goldsboro, North Carolina, boasts that George Bush Sr, Bill Clinton and Jesse Helms have all sat down to pork plates with side orders of fried liver and gizzards. Underbones Lounge at Redbones Barbecue in student-saturated Boston has valet parking for fixed-gear bicycles.

All across the south, long before the civil war, cuts of cheap meat, particularly pig, were cooked and smoked. The meat was often rubbed, poked and seasoned, then drenched in sauce. “Pig pickin’s”, church picnics and political rallies soon sprung up. With highways came a steady evolution from a communal pit at the plantation big house to the roadhouse glowing in neon, now the industry standard in all its retro glory.

The 'pit cooked' sign at Kelly’s BBQ. Covington, Georgia, 1998

***Click HERE to view the full article from the Financial Times. Click HERE to view a slideshow of Jim Dow's work.

Jim Dow in The New Yorker

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Here’s some fresh inspiration for that road trip you’ve been meaning to take: Jim Dow’s current show (at Janet Borden Gallery) and new book, “American Studies,” published by PowerHouse. “Nothing lasts forever, and I want to preserve what I can,” Dow told me when I asked him what inspired his long and very well-travelled career. “My interest in photography centers on its capacity for exact description. I use photography to try to record the manifestations of human ingenuity and spirit still remaining in our country’s everyday landscape.” Here’s a look at what he found just down the road.

Dairy Queen at Night: US 6, Iowa City, Iowa, 1988

Town Diner: Route 16, Watertown, Massachusetts 1979

Lil’ Lunch Box: US 11, Harrisonburg, Virginia 2004
Click here to read more of the New Yorker.

Photograph: Jim Dow

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About The Cover

by Lyle Rexer

Longer ago than I care to admit, I made my one and only visit to North Dakota. I blew through Fargo and Bismarck, headed for the Badlands and Montana. The interstate was only two lanes then, there were almost no cars, and the speed limit was optional. Made sense to me, since there was absolutely no reason to slow down. Or so I thought. I wish I’d had Jim Dow in the car with me. North Dakota was where he made some of his best early photographs, and I have a pretty good idea how it would have gone: “Hey, did you see that motel? Pull over! It’s a beautiful sign. The people that run this joint really want us to stop.” Probably we’d have wound up in a place like the Terrace Lounge in Carrington, and Dow’s eye would have lit on the wall mural of a dance hall from a bygone time, with a woman in a red dress. “Open your eyes, man, it may not be the Sistine Chapel but it’s pretty great.” Dow brings his unique American travelogue to the Janet Borden Gallery (through July 29) in an exhibition titled American Studies, and though it may not be obvious from the cover image (Arthur Bryant’s Bar-b-q, Kansas City MO., 2002), we can see clearly what has separated Dow from his contemporaries and made him the essential traveling companion. Like Stephen Shore, Len Jenshel, Mitch Epstein, William Eggleston, Joel Sternfeld, and others who have rendered America in color, Dow has an insatiable appetite for the vernacular, from french fries to phone booths. But Dow seems always willing to linger a bit longer. He’s never ironic or distant and, as Borden points out, “He is patient, often using exposures of 15 minutes. His photographs release their information slowly.” Dow himself suggests, “Perhaps because I grew up without a television, I’m not just watching. I’m looking.” Dow’s meditation on America has lasted four decades and yielded the newly published American Studies (powerHouse Books). He lingers, of course, because he loves, and what he loves is passing away. It goes beyond nostalgia for fading murals and pink lunch counters to a reverence for every manifestation of what has been made by hand, with care and imagination. His America beautifies beyond all entrepreneurial necessity, expends labor for no corporate reward, seeks ecstasy in motel neon (and not just motel romance) and paints a trail-tested cowboy on the wall of a tire store. It expresses itself. Which brings us to that sandwich and fries in the cover image. Yes, the sandwich is made with Wonder bread, a symbol of the cultural homogenization Dow deplores, but look at the size of it, and that mountain of fries! They didn’t come out of any frozen food case. Whoever ran Arthur Bryant’s decided that if people wanted to eat, he was darn well going to feed them. “Barbecue is one of the few things that changes from place to place,” adds Dow. “It has personality that hasn’t been squashed.” Pull over, Jim. What say we stop here?

Courtesy of Photomag