Friday, October 29, 2010

Sawdust Mountain - Eirik Johnson

I came across Eirik Johnson on 20x200.  I think I've said it before, but for so much of my life I wanted nothing to do with the Pacific Northwest.  There was a sign on a North Beach storefront in San Francisco when I lived there in the late 80s and early 90s that read "I'm dying to get out of Portland, Oregon".  Every time I saw it, I read it with the joy of someone that feels as if he is finally in the presence of someone who understands. Oregon offered me nothing, worse than nothing actually, as far as I was concerned.
My attitude started to change about twelve years ago, coinciding with the death of my mother – gee, I wonder if there's a connection.  Since returning to live here about six years back, my appreciation for my roots has continued to grow.
Seeing collections of photographs like Johnson's hits me in various ways – simply as nostalgia and as affirmation of my feelings of displacement.  I am attracted to the charm exuding from these landscapes and portraits, feeling both an appreciation of their vintage as well a deep familiarity with their subjects.  At the same time I'm reminded of my feelings of never feeling a part of this place.  Which at this point in my life is more of an affirmation than estrangement.  I really felt like I didn't belong and these photographs confirm that perhaps I didn't, but I was here nonetheless.

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