Yesterday afternoon was spent at the SFMOMA wandering through the galleries. One particular photo that drew me in was Henry Wessel’s Buena Vista, Colorado (see above). It was no surprise. I am constantly drawn to images of open, empty roads under big western skies. I take “this” photo all the time on road trips and use them for sources in paintings.
Wessel’s image is dominated by the phone booth. Phone booths have all but disappeared. The logo and style of the booth dates the image to about 40 years ago. If one recognizes that time, it’s unnecessary to confirm the image is from 1973. If the phone booth were absent from this image, it could have been taken yesterday.
This photo stuck with me after I left the museum. As I thought about the photo I was reminded how every artist may act as an archivist either consciously or unconsciously. Many of the pieces for the 2011 Project dealt with past and disappearing objects. Wessel’s photo of a phone booth inspires me to continue to document ordinary items in my work.