Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Go East, Young Man, & c.

This past summer, Robin Stein, a Seattle-based photographer (you may also know him from such bands as Flexions), spent a week on a tree farm outside of Chesterhill, Ohio, as a guest of the Harold Arts Residency. While there, he studied the pages of an obscure guidebook published in Pittsburgh in 1811, The Navigator: "Containing Directions for Navigating the Monongahela, Allegheny, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers; with an Ample Account of These Much Admired Waters, from the Head of the Former to the Mouth of the Latter; and a Concise Description of Their Towns, Villages, Harbours, Settlements, & c."

The week after, Stein journeyed up the Ohio River Valley, and then East through the Alleghenies, using what he had learned from The Navigator to loosely trace a route of early westbound settlers, but in reverse. He ended up in New York City. And then he came back to Seattle, and started posting photographs of the journey on his blog. Here are a few of my favorites:

Bernerd’s Yard, Chesterhill, Ohio

Pt. Pleasant, West Virginia

For me, Stein's photos capture a feeling that is difficult to describe – the feeling of being from the coasts, but finding yourself between them, observing the land as you move through it. A roadtrip is always a good idea, but a roadtrip with a theme becomes more epic – in this case, connecting with the westward migration that is our country's collective internal road movie.

Check out Robin Stein's blog here, or better yet, see more of his work in person at a show opening this Thursday, with painter Matt Lifson, at Ursa Minor Gallery, 3308 East Spring Street (one block South of Union in Madrona, Seattle).

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