When I go out on a photo shoot in the city, intending to capture big images of beautiful buildings and striking street scenes, I often find myself focusing instead on odd little images that are literally underfoot or that appear on the wall of a building in front of me – images that have taken on an unintended aesthetic quality through the process of aging or simply through the presence of a well-placed shadow or a random coming together of objects.
You could call these images found art, accidental art or maybe even self-generating art, where the environment itself (or simply happenstance) is the artist. Often, when I return home at the end of a photo shoot, I find that my favorite images of the day are not the images I planned to take but are those unexpected little images that presented themselves to me while I had been looking elsewhere.
Admittedly, many of these images can be classified as images of blight; and I don’t want the viewer to believe that I am making light of the dilapidation that characterizes parts of cities like Cleveland. From my perspective, finding beauty in blight gives expression to a truly wondrous and remarkable phenomenon in which objects take on unanticipated beauty as they age and decay.
Ultimately, I appreciate these images because they demonstrate that beauty can be found all around us – not just in museums or in the work of great architects or in a gorgeous sunset, but in the peeling paint of an old building, in the gravel at the edge of a neglected parking lot or in the face of a forgotten mannequin in the back of a warehouse. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to discover these images.
-- Robert N. Brown, January 2018 CLICK HEREFOR THE PHOTO ESSAY
NOTE: Almost all these images were taken in the City of Cleveland between 2014 and 2017.