Bryan Schutmaat’s large format photographs of abandoned mining towns in the American West present us with a portrait of America that is somber, often melancholy in its observations, yet unabashedly romantic. The palette is strong, rich and consistent; the landscapes, interiors and portraits are compositionally uniform. Schutmaat has chosen to plant his flag squarely in the post-documentary school of photography.
The photographs were produced from the real world and fold in the complex history of place but were not meant to serve as documents, rather they are very intentionally Schutmaat’s expression of his own artistic sensibility. His photographs depict, among other things, sweeping views of devastated, almost deserted towns, interiors of old homes, and portraits of the myriad of people who still inhabit these areas. One intensely compelling aspect of the work is its clear, unsettling duality; the natural landscape is beautiful yet ravished, the people seem stoic yet doomed. And Schutmaat has carried this duality through to the execution: the photographs are of a vanishing America , a sad, true homage to the old romantic scenes of the American West.
Photographs from the opening by Patricia Koo