I began the Ghost Towns series of paintings many years ago while traveling through the historic Wild West, visiting National Parks and the vastly open territories of Montana, Wyoming, California, and Colorado. In 2016, I decided to create a coherent body of work about America’s gold fever, inspired by the current political climate in the US. This series consists of two separate but conceptually related groups of paintings. One represents contemporary ghost towns and their current state, and the other represents my fictitious, personal interpretations of their past. In the paintings, I play against the typical, monochromatic representation of past events by reversing the norm; the work of today is shown as bleak and gray, whereas the past is shown as colorful and booming with life.
Through my oil paint and mixed media techniques, I inject myself into life as it once was: saloons, the Red Light District, the good and the bad (and the ugly), the gold rush, and the ballads and legends that were created amidst constant turmoil. My ink paintings convey the state of arrested decay of ghost towns as they stand today. In addition, I use grayscale and sepia colors to resemble the daguerreotype era of the golden age of prospecting. My paintings speak to each other in whispers, amplifying the connection between the eerie impressions of abandoned towns and the echoes of past turmoil. From war and natural disaster to the complete draining of resources, the show comes together to address the self-destructive nature of mankind. I search for the ineffable energy that lingers throughout emptiness. Wandering through abandoned communities, I catch glimpses of humanity chiseled into the environment like layers of sedimentary rock. There, I can see dreams given up on, risks taken or not taken, and successes and failures, all drifting around us. We’re reminded of the temporary nature of our time on earth, and there is an underlying sense of gratitude. We stand and breathe, with morbid curiosity, where countless souls have stood and fallen.