© Stephen Shore, Tall in Texas (1972), Amarillo, USA

I have this strange feeling that I need to go to Amarillo.

John Baldessari used to do this thing with his students -- or as JB prefers to call them "younger artists" -- where he'd put a map of LA up on the wall and have someone throw a dart at it.  The class would then drive to wherever the dart landed and create work. JB would say that art can't be taught, but that the creation of art depends on setting up a situation where art, with some luck, can occur.

It's easy to get hung up on location as an integral element to photography.  And I am certainly guilty of not picking up my camera because something about the location isn't working.  But with a good enough idea, any location will work. Making good work depends partly on setting boundaries that require creativity to overcome.  

Other times it's just following a whim, or the beginning thread of an idea, turning it over until something or several things click together in an unexpected way. Which can be called luck, or persistence, or both.

I've been looking at Stephen Shore's work lately, <a href="" target="_blank">trying to understand why I respond to it so strongly</a>.  When Shore was in his 20's, he decided that what the New York Art World needed was a set of postcards from Amarillo, TX.  So he got in his car, drove there, shot a bunch of images, then returned to NY and used them to print thousands of postcards.

The New York Art World didn't care about his postcards. So he loaded them into his car, drove back to Amarillo, and discreetly placed them in postcard racks at gas stations, corner stores, and motels throughout Texas.

I recently bid a job that was going to take me from Kansas City to Albuquerque, via Amarillo. I didn't get the job, but was excited to see the town that laid the foundation for Shore's work.

In writing previously about <a href="" target="_blank">George Saunders</a>, I learned that he was born in Amarillo.  Strange.

Interested in Baldessari's dart-throwing idea, I checked Southwest for the least expensive round-trip fare from Denver, so that I could buy a ticket, fly there for a 24 hour shoot.  

Denver to Amarillo -- $59 each way. Hmmm.

Which has me thinking about a project where my destination is determined by the lowest available airfares, and a 24 hour travel period.  There's only one way to find out if this idea has any substance...


Jamie KripkeComment