(C) ANTONE DOLEZAL
Railroad Crossing, Oklahoma
It was great meeting photographer Antone Dolezal at the photo-eye Gallery in Santa Fe last month. I really had a lot of fun that day. After looking through his work, I was immediately struck by his love of decay. Decay has always fascinated me. Let's see what Antone has to say about it.
Tell me about your relationship with an "untidy world."
The photographs of abandoned homes and towns were taken primarily in Oklahoma. I’ve been photographing there for the past 4 years and have been fascinated with the towns hit hardest by the Dust Bowl and the subsequent abandonment that has taken place since. Oklahoma has a colorful history of transients and drifters – Woody Guthrie being arguably the most famous–and photographing these places he sang and spoke about became important for me in my process of describing this place.
The decay that has taken place over the last five or six decades in Oklahoma is, in a way, a relic of a time when folks had to pack up and move to greener pastures. It is a place rich with forgotten ghosts and left behind memories. My hope is that these photographs evoke that history, while also telling a story that is from my own experience.
Lone Car, Oklahoma
I'm guessing you are a "road" guy. How do you decide where to go and how do you prepare?
I grew up in Oklahoma and would spend my summers camping and fishing in Missouri and Arkansas. These are the places I travel to photograph because I know the culture and landscape so well…and I’m really fascinated by Southern history and folklore. Working on projects away from my home in New Mexico has become essential for me to become fully immersed in my subjects. It is a taxing way to work, but the act of participating in this manner has become an important factor in my creative process.
I’m actually on the road right now in southern Missouri and Arkansas working on a project with my collaborative partner Lara Shipley. Our project "The Devil’s Promenade" is about our search for an old folktale revolving around a mysterious light that appears in a rural community of the Ozark hills. I’ll have been away from home for about 6 weeks when we finish up next month. I have the technical and networking aspects down. It's being mentally and physically prepared to be away from home for so long and staying focused on the project that becomes the challenge. I read books, listen to music and research histories relevant to my projects prior to and while on the road. I also take along my bicycle and yoga mat so I’m not so worn down from living in a pickup for this long!
Last Train Ride
So, you're in the land of Grits, Biscuits and Gravy and Catfish. What’s your favorite Southern food? Have you found a holy grail of good eats down there? If so, where is it?
Oh Man, it’s all about the BBQ! I’ve been eating some of the best brisket and ribs I’ve ever had out here. Although we did filet some Catfish from our fishing trip the other night and it was pretty good!
Where do you want to be photographically five years from now?
In five years, if I continue to have the time to travel and take photographs, I will be really happy. I envision the project I’m working on now as a book and I think, with the somewhat recent independent and self-publishing takeover, the possibilities of that vision have become much more exciting.
Well Antone, I can't wait to see the book! Thanks for taking time to talk. Now, I have to go out and find me some BBQ today!
To see more of Antone's work, check out his website: www.antonedolezal.com