The Chicago Beach House Project, 1983-1984 & 2000

Wall panel text for the exhibit – Chicago Beach House, at the Illinois Bell Gallery, Chicago, IL, 1986

Through the process of photographing Chicago’s bathhouses since 1983, I have been able to further explore the documentary aesthetic and add the reality of color that was absent in my earlier documentary work. In addition, I have been able to record images of places that, since my childhood, have been the catalyst for fantasies, mysteries, and memories. It is my hope that my photographs will help preserve the memories of a unique feature of Chicago’s lakefront. 

In 1999, Chicago Tribune Architecture Critic, Blair Kamin wrote: “A beach house entices us to the water’s edge while evoking sun-bleached memories of summers past.”

I am conscious of working within a tradition of artists such as Edward Hopper, Eugene Atget, and Walker Evans. They have recorded with purity and clarity their feelings about light and form: the essence of the documentary aesthetic.

I chose to use large-format color-positive film because of its potential for printing on Cibachrome paper. This combination of film and paper insures the recording of the maximum intensity in color documentary detail. At the same time, it also allows for the recording of the finest nuances of color and the color of light.

I use the view camera directly and realistically, and at the same time try to abandon the kind of leisurely discursive literalness that characterizes much straight photography. When exploring the expressive potential of the photographic detail (the part that would represent the whole), I try to produce simplicity in photographic design. Equally important to me is the need to heighten content with a poetic expression.

Selected photos

Chicago Beach Houses, Color, 1983-1984 & 2000

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