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Bannack Unreal

Bannack Unreal : Off the Wall

Just imagine visiting the Museum of Modern Art at Bannack, Montana.  Colorful whole walls reveal over 150 years of accumulating abstract patterns, textures, layered by time itself. Huge watercolors created over the years by deconstruction through wear and tear (literally) offer a glimpse into the artistic interests of the women and men who decorated the inside of their log cabins.

The story I discovered is the art on the internal walls of these buildings.  Housewives, in order to make their surroundings presentable, covered and recovered these wooden walls with paint, cloth, wallpaper and canvas.

I started the project in 2016 and have spent a large part of 2020 photographing new strong images, the subject matter of which I consider very innovative, unique and thought provoking.

The viewer, as an archeologist, is taken back through time to appreciate the stunning choice of colors, the random designs produced by invading moisture weathering the once thoughtful interior design.

All this fine art splendor appears in Bannack, the ghost town in remote Montana which was a boomtown of 4,000 people in 1862, boasting 10,000 by 1864 after gold was discovered along the banks of Grasshopper Creek.  In 1864 it became the first Capital of the new Territory of Montana.  Typical of the Western mining camps, the area attracted hearty men and women who worked long and hard to make a living for themselves and who faced incredible hardships including the ravages of an often early, brutal and long winter.

Crude log huts or cabins were the norm for shelter accommodations. Generally, food and supplies were hauled into Bannack from considerable distance and at considerable expense. Over 60 buildings remain today, each one with a story to tell. It is the human factor that is important.  My story, my project is the art left behind.

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