Apr 22, 2009

New Work: "Landmark (Swamp Rabbit Series): Homeless"

This is a piece I am currently working on. This image is a "rough draft," a sketch, a mock-up, of a possible assemblage composition using the open-air painting of an old rail car on the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, South Carolina. This rail car, standing by itself on rails (all the original steel rails have been removed by now, except for those immediately under this car) really grabbed my attention as I drove over the rail path. I have encountered at least one homeless person who lived here for a brief time, and found many interesting and suggestive object/elements related to this site. I continue to enjoy how this new line of work presents an entry point for learning and understanding more about place and time and space. For example, I wondered exactly what this car was, as it did not resemble any passenger car I knew of, nor did it look like a regular box car for cargo. I learned, thanks to one of the many usual passers-by while I paint, that this one was a steam generator, located up near the kitchen car on the "Swamp Rabbit" passenger line that ran between the upstate area of South Carolina (Travelers Rest terminus) and the regional center of Asheville, North Carolina to the north. Here's a bit of history about the rail line: Swamp Rabbit line and Travelers Rest.

This series of paintings and assemblage work along the Swamp Rabbit Trail (a project supported by the Federal Governement "Rails to Trails" program), starts in Travelers Rest and will proceed through and south of Greenville city. It is quite an ambitious project and will link several important and historical centers in the region.

Sans Souci (which in French means "with no care or worry") is one of those areas which used to be a community, but has now lost its center as a community. I learned a new term related to this: "census designated place," which means it will appear on census or demographic related maps, but one cannot actually find a town center or "place" called Sans Souci. There are churches and a couple of local businesses which still use this name, but the precise boundaries and location are now lost. This location was once part of the "textile crescent" in the area west and north of Greenville, South Carolina, home to many huge textile industry related manufacturing plants and mills. Most of these are now closed, abandonded and deserted. I have located several more places I hope to paint and engage as part of this series including the old Union Bleachery site (most recently branded U.S. Finishing) and the chimneys and mill building at Poe Mills (now used as art studios).

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