An ongoing series of images made with modified plastic cameras.
No Safe Harbour
Prince Edward Island: Part Two
"The sea is a mighty soul forever moaning of some great unshareable sorrow ..."
Snapshots From Away
Prince Edward Island: Part One
If you're not from the island, you are someone who "comes from away". Although I have been visiting Prince Edward Island every year for nearly thirty years, I will always be someone who comes from away.
Hints of Civilization
Wide Awake in Dreamsville
Unnatural Surroundings: the American Southwest
Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed ... We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.
-Wallace Stegner, The Sound of Mountain Water
The Wilderness Around Me
An ongoing series of Holga images made while walking in the local woods.
Lost in Dogtown
A sense of eeriness pervades all the place.
A bit of history.
Dogtown is approximately a 3,500 acre tract of woods, bog and glacial moraine that takes up the majority of the Cape Ann peninsula that incorporates much of Gloucester and all of Rockport, MA. Originally known in the 1600s and 1700s as the “Commons Settlement”, homesteaders created a village in the higher ground away from the ocean to avoid the threat of attacks by pirates and British ships. The settlement thrived until after the Revolutionary War when many villagers relocated to the newly safe harbor and the commerce that it offered.. The village fell into disrepair, many of the abandoned houses left to collapse upon themselves. The remaining residents were a “colorful” cast of characters that included many women who were thought to be witches. In 1828, the last resident of Dogtown, a freed slave named Cornelius Finson, was found with his feet frozen living in the cellar hole of a fallen house. He was taken to the poorhouse in Gloucester where he died a few weeks later.
With the exception of livestock grazing among the glacial erratics, Dogtown was a ghost town.
In the 1930’s, the wealthy (and somewhat strange) Gloucester native Roger Babson took up an interest in Dogtown, bought much of the land, and commissioned local unemployed quarry workers to carve what he considered to be inspirational mottoes on several of the granite boulders there. (Babson also had numbers carved onto smaller rocks which marked the remaining cellar holes of the original houses in the village). Today, many of the boulders are now hidden by the new growth forest quickly taking over the area.
What do you think this is...Disneyland?
What remains of Holy Land USA today sits on a hill overlooking Waterbury, Connecticut.
Holy Land USA was conceived and constructed in the 1950's by a local businessman and devout Roman Catholic named John Baptist Greco. He and a cast of volunteers constructed folk art replicas of Bethlehem, Jerusalem and the Garden of Eden from scrap metal, cheap wood and cinderblock. This odd biblical theme park lasted from 1958 to 1984 when Greco decided to temporarily shut down to undertake a much needed renovation. Greco died, however, in 1986 and Holy Land USA never reopened to the public.
The Holy Land property was left to a small order of reclusive nuns, known as the Filippi Sisters, who lived in a convent adjacent to the site. The sisters did not have the funds necessary to maintain the site, however, and the place rapidly fell into a state of neglect and disrepair. Fearing legal action from anyone who might injure themselves, the nuns banned the public from the property (although it remained a popular spot for local vandals and drinking parties). In 2010, Holy Land reached it's nadir when a teenaged girl was raped and murdered at the base of the enormous cross which stood at the top of the hill on the site.
In 2013, the property was purchased from the nuns by the mayor of Waterbury and a local car dealer. They began the task of clearing away thirty years of brush and growth that covered the "relics" left behind there. The photos in this series were made after the clearing process had begun. When these images were made, Holy Land USA resembled an archaeological dig site composed of fragments of religious folk art and crumbling miniature buildings. The new owners are hoping to reopen a somewhat modified version of Holy Land USA in the near future.
During the time that the property was owned by the Filippi Sisters, a local Holy Land USA enthusiast approached the nuns about the possibility of constructing a new Christmas nativity scene which the public would be allowed to visit during the holiday season.
One of the sisters responded, "What do you think this is? Disneyland"?