small town landscape


Centralia, Pennsylvania
Population: 10

“Analysts disagree about the specific cause of the Centralia fire. Writer David Dekok concluded that it started incident to cleanup of the town landfill. In May 1962, the Centralia Borough Council hired five members of the volunteer fire company to clean up the town landfill, located in an abandoned strip-mine pit next to the Odd Fellows Cemetery just outside the borough limits. This had been done prior to Memorial Day in previous years when the landfill was in a different location.

On May 27, 1962, the firefighters, as they had in the past, set the dump on fire and let it burn for some time. Unlike in previous years, however, the fire was not fully extinguished. An unsealed opening in the pit allowed the fire to enter the labyrinth of abandoned coal mines beneath Centralia.  According to a legend, the Bast Colliery coal fire of 1932 was never fully extinguished. In 1962, it reached the landfill area.

Few homes remain standing in Centralia. Most of the abandoned buildings have been demolished by the Columbia County Redevelopment Authority or reclaimed by nature. At a casual glance, the area now appears to be a field with many paved streets running through it. Some areas are being filled with new-growth forest. The remaining church in the borough, St. Mary’s, holds weekly services on Sunday. It has not yet been directly affected by the fire. The town’s four cemeteries—including one on the hilltop that has smoke rising around and out of it—are maintained in good condition.”

Ivy In Winter; View From My Mother’s Kitchen Window, Sandusky Ohio 2008

Limited edition 8x10 archival print up for auction today April 7 at Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton Ohio. Stivers is a public magnet school, grades 7-12. This auction benefits the photography program.

If I myself hadn’t gone to a high school with an advanced art & photography program, I might not have known that I was meant to pursue a career in photography. Kids need art programs! Consider contributing to a local arts program if you can.


Revere, Missouri
Population: 79

“Founded on October 22, 1887 by the Santa Fe Railroad, Revere was ‘probably named in honor of Paul Revere.’ During the period prior to 1900, Revere flourished as an intermediate stop for the railroad.

Revere was a town into the 2000s, but it became a village after a change in state law: a 2009 law provided for the conversion of all towns with fewer than five hundred residents into villages. On July 26, 2011 the United States Postal Service announced plans to consider closing the Revere post office as part of a nationwide restructuring plan. On May 9, 2012 it was announced that a new strategy would preserve the nation’s smallest post offices, reversing the earlier plan.”


Main Street, Jackson. Watercolor on Paper. 2014. 

This July has been a stormy one here in New York, and even more so in my hometown of Jackson, Ohio which was hit hard yesterday with over five inches of rain. I found myself revisiting this painting from last summer, in which I captured one of those big summer storms rolling in over Main Street. I took the photo that this painting was based on with my phone - one shot that luckily captured the dramatic sky - and I later decided that the composition seemed perfect for a painting. I normally using my DSLR for photo reference, but I wasn’t planning on painting Jackson and didn’t have it on me that day. 

As you can see from the in-progress shots (cell phone photo quality not as impressive here, sorry), my process was pretty much the same as with my ‘View from the High Line’ painting. Check out that post for a discussion of my process that I won’t go into detail repeating here. I started with the sky, carefully masking off the silhouettes of the building shapes with tape and the intricate telephone poles and streetlights with masking fluid. Once the sky was sufficiently ominous, I painted the street up to where the cars begin, and then began painting the building on the left and marched across the page from there.   After painting several photo-realistic scenes of Manhattan, this simple street lined with two story buildings seemed like a relatively straightforward proposition, and it was a lot of fun to paint. This is still one of my favorite paintings - it helped me see a place that I had never considered very interesting or beautiful in a new light.