Sunday, May 26, 2019

Halfway to 2020

A random boat out in the middle of a meadow, that was not on a towing trailer, was a bit odd.
Okay, okay, we aren't quite YET to the halfway mark on this year, and lord knows the Missouri weather has been dealing weather cards out randomly like a blind blackjack dealer, so I'm never even sure what month I am in, BUT regardless of all of that, I'm back again with a bit of an update and some meandering musings.

Urban Exploration

I've not been doing as much of this as I would like, but I have found a few isolated gems that were interesting to check out. One was an abandoned site of what was a food, fuel, and tire shop. Both exposure to the elements and a lot of human interaction has accelerated the decline of the location. One thing I am very careful about is checking for other people around, from people who are homeless, to others with less than preferable motives. Safety first.
[Top] Shot from the far side of the main building. [Bottom Left] Closeup of some personal items that looked fairly new, including this random stuffed animal. [Bottom Right] Closer to the highway, where the old fuel pumps used to be installed.
But this site in particular was out on a long stretch of highway, off on a worn out access road. I checked with some of the locals to get a bit of history on it, and it was purchased by a larger oil company, and for some reason or another was closed down, and after the main pumps were removed, and the mini mart part of it was torn down, it was abandoned. Best I was able to find out was that it was active in the late 80's, and was initially opened in the 60s, and that's just from what research I could find online, as the two people I spoke to about it at another nearby restaurant/gas station just had some colloquialism heavy memories about the area. But I did get some cool leads on some other locations to check out.
One side of the building. The interior had a lot of graffiti and a smattering of what appeared to be a combination of dumped items and evidence of squatters. I wanted to look further, but I was pretty sure I heard something coming from the open stairwell in the back floor. It was pitch black down there, with what looked like a bit of water on the floor. Was not going to hazard looking around down there. 
This other find was sort of out of the blue. I had seen what I though was a rusted out water tower of some sort, and upon closer inspection, found it to be a kind of creepy abandoned refinery or industrial cement mixing contraption.
Stuff like this evokes reminders of things like photos I've seen of places like Chernobyl, where most of it is still intact, but has a feeling of being recently, and perhaps hastily abandoned.
The structure itself was in good shape, but beginning to show weather wear and corrosion throughout. The part that is always a bit unsettling is seeing something that looks newly abandoned, and the mobile home trailer with young trees in front, but the doors and windows smashed in, gave a sense of unease to me. I tend to love movies like War for the Planet of the Apes, and the general looks and worlds of stuff like the Walking Dead and Omega Man, that have succumbed to the natural work overtaking it. Not that I am all about the devastation or nihilism view of life, but the physical remnants of locations seem to still echo the previous residents and moments of life, at the same time the ravages of time overtake them.
I need to go back and get a better photo of the inside of the trailer, as it had a young tree growing up through the center of it.
That is something I try to capture a bit of in the photography I do. I don't include people in the images I take for the time series I am working on, but I do like the things that people have created, lived in, interacted with... because just like people, these places and things age and change. It's not always readily apparent, but photography and film have the capacity to for a long while, capture that moment, and keep something, if only in part, frozen in time.

Questions like, who owned this, what happened here, how old was this, or how did this get here, run through my mind. Sometimes, you can also find some interesting things along the way. I've found old books, tools, old corn husking gloves, just some odd things, that I've added into my personal collection from places I've been.

That said, I need to add in a note here: I will 99% of the time, just go into places and observe, record, and photograph things. When I have taken items, it was with permission, and in regards to if it was truly discarded or not. I've also been doing this off and on for years, and know my own limitations and risks involved when doing anything like urban/rural exploration of any kind. I always tell people that it's only a hobby, and it is, and that if they want to do it, to be safe, smart, and have preparation with them in the form of a day pack, gloves, good footwear, flashlight, all of that. But first and foremost, to not ignore danger signs or precarious buildings/site warnings. I've known many other explorers that have gotten badly injured because they didn't plan well enough, or heed warnings well enough. It's not unlike hiking in unfamiliar wild areas.

So just as a word to the wise, IF you do stuff like this, be smart. Be safe. And be respectful.

I've had a few people ask about this hobby so I may later do a more in-depth look into what I do.

Online Store

If you've not had a chance to check out the online store, it's up and running and has all of my current works on there. I've also updated my Society 6 store, so if you are wanting some of the work I do on the lifestyle item that you fancy, be sure to check that out.
Most of my artwork will be available on these items, and I will be adding more thumbnails to my store listings. 
Thanks for reading!

Until next time, support your local artists and businesses. Be kind to your fellow beings and always take the path less traveled. We all may live in times uncertain, but kindness, understanding, and believing in the good that is in most each and every one of us is what can bring about better days!

Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Voice Actor, Writer, Animal Rights Activist

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