The Luminous Landscape Grant
Teri Havens - Colorado, USA
An homage to the humble bar. Palladium prints of simple, solitary structures shrouded in loneliness and isolation, yet miraculously, as if blessed by some divine patron, still open.
Iíve always had a thing for bars. The more marginal the better. Iím mostly drawn to rural or urban outliers - raw, dilapidated joints that evoke an earlier, grittier era. An authentic down-to-its-rotting-bones refuge where a hard-edged world is numbed and softened by alcohol and dim lighting.
Defiant vestiges of the past, the bar always seems the last to go. After the grocery store, the lumberyard and the barbershop long ago surrendered to the future and shut their doors for the final time, the bar stayed on. Slumped alone on the edge of a discarded town, its neon spills out onto the asphalt and burns through the night.
Inside, the beer is cold, and the jukebox stocked with George Jones and dirges from an irretrievable past.
These images were captured using either moonlight or ambient streetlight. For years I have been a dedicated film photographer, but for this series (with the exception of two older images which where shot on 35mm and scanned), I conceded to digital because it allows me to more easily smooth out glare and reflections. It also makes it possible to accommodate the full spectrum of tones in night photography. If a scene has a wider range of tones than the camera can capture in a single exposure Iíll take one exposure of the main part of the subject - the building or surrounding landscape - and merge it with a shorter exposure of the moon or other bright elements in the scene to create the final image.
Sometimes I will spend several nights photographing the same bar until I get a shot that I am satisfied with. If the place is busy (rare) I wait until closing time when there is only a single truck in frontĖ usually belonging to the bartender or owner. The finished palladium print is a hybrid of modern digital technology and 19th century printmaking. I feel this combination of techniques reflects the context of the antiquated buildings - still alive, but barely - within contemporary society.
As a photographer and printmaker, I have been documenting fragments of American culture for over thirty years. Recurring themes in my work include individuality, isolation and the enduring self-sufficiency of people and places that are often left behind. My photography is a study - and ultimately a celebration - of cultural and geographic desolation. Though I initially studied photojournalism at the University of Texas, I further developed my printmaking skills by improvising darkrooms in kitchens and motel rooms across the country while working as an itinerant bartender and cocktail waitress.
Although this is an ongoing project and I will always be on the track of the perfect roadside bar, these days I am primarily working in my darkroom. Several prints from the series have hung in international group shows, and it has received funding from the Dave Bown Projects. In 2016 it was the recipient of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award. I am now working toward producing a solo exhibition and I believe that there are several venues that may be interested. Ideally I would like to present the series in a darkened gallery along with a couple of vintage neon signs and atmospheric background music (Ry Cooder seems to work well).
Funding would be used toward completing a portfolio of limited edition palladium prints and the publication of a monograph to accompany an exhibition.
Many thanks for your consideration.