From Dorothea Lange in the Great-Depression 1930s, and Robert Frank in the Cold-War 1950s, to Stephen Shore in the Vietnam-era 1970s, Walker Pickering continues the grand tradition of socially engaged photographic road trips across the United States. With his medium-format film camera, he discovers and documents a panoply of American places in square-format photographs that remind us of who we are as individuals and members of a society. Urban parking lots, rural roads, monuments, motel rooms, and roadside attractions receive Pickering's equal, loving attention. Often infused with golden sunlight and blending beauty with apparent ugliness, his landscapes are both physical and psychic spaces.
— Toby Kamps, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Menil Collection
Front Room Gallery is proud to present "Nearly West," a solo exhibition of photographs by Austin based artist Walker Pickering. In this series Pickering reflects on the subtleties in the landscape and culture from West Texas to the Southern regions of the US. Through the lens of travel and adventure, he seeks out the hidden among the ordinary. Pickering's work captures the mundane trappings of travel, rest-stops and unexpected roadside encounters.
The places immortalized in Pickering's work often show the wear of time, they seem to have gone unnoticed for years, they have their own lives and feel like they might never change—or they might be gone already. In one of Pickering's photographs a forgotten architectural feature, an ornate entryway to a no longer existing building, with the word "Mayflower" carved into the stone stands guard over an empty plot in a field. In another photo, "Business Cards," a dimly lit storage space in an office, business cards are taped to the walls cover every available surface, a textural overload that has built over decades.
Pickering's photographs in this series almost never have people in them but the human hand is always evident in the environment. In "Hole" a bucolic landscape containing a verdant river flows from the distance towards the viewer, the lush fauna is reflected in the river, an altogether beautiful scene—but centered in the middle of the square photo is a large, completely unexplainable, circular hole in the river. While the hole in the river is obviously man-made it is a mysterious presence in the photo, a vortex to another dimension.
This is Walker Pickering's first solo exhibition at The Front Room, Walker received his MFA in photography from Savannah College of Art and Design, and currently teaches photography at the Art Institute of Austin.