Thursday, November 16, 2006

From Appalachia to Midtown Manhattan



Some of you will remember this post from a couple of weeks ago. I was walking down 6th Avenue in midtown Manhattan and I saw this huge 12 foot photo in the window of the International Center of Photography. When I saw it I said "Good grief, that looks like it could be Poca, WV". I walked up to the window and read the label down in the corner "John Amos Power Plant, Raymond, WV". Raymond City is a little neighborhood next to the town of Poca. The photo is by Mitch Epstein from a series on power generation. Well, this morning I happened to be working at an office which is just about 2 miles from the site, so on the way home I drove by there to see if I could find where the photo was taken. After a few minutes, I found it. I was hoping to see some people around so I could ask them what they thought about the photo in New York but not a soul was around.
UPDATE: Greetings Surber readers. Click here for more photographs.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

great blog!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Rick! That's some kind of meta-art thing working here. In your gallery showing, you can show your original picture of the gallery picture next to your picture of the same scene in that picture and then, well, just go on from there.

Not sure what it all means but it's impressive nontheless. Great post!

Rick Lee said...

Thanks EOO and Pete! It would have been a better story if I'd been able to talk to the homeowners. I keep wondering about the photo in the exhibit. What is the viewer supposed to think about those houses? Are we supposed to pity them for living in the shadow of those cooling towers? Are the towers supposed to be ominous? People tend to associate massive cooling towers with nuclear plants but of course these are coal-fired plants. You can tell because of the tall stacks.

Imagesmith said...

I'm going to have to find my favorite pix from there & post it. It is a favorite spot of mine & everytime I get down that way I crawl around looking for another angle. The picture I really enjoy is from the Old Home Days celebration with 2 teenagers sitting on a bench in front of the barbershop.

Marie said...

Sweet! I definitely like the added blue trailer in your photo.

Lee said...

That's just amazingly cool.

Mark said...

Rick, this is fabulous. Was this the area where the electric company bought out all the homeowners because of complaints?

Rick Lee said...

No... the electric company hasn't bought out anybody's house that I know of. Don Surber would know more about that. These houses are actually on the other side of the Kanawha River from the plant. Take a look at this aerial photo. The red mark is where the photo was taken. It's just that the plant's towers are so big that it looks like they are right on top of the homes. I don't think I'd want to live there because giant plumes of steam would block out the sun so often. Other than that, I don't think the plant bothers anybody. I know that many people see it as a source of pride. This is West Virginia and we do mine coal... that's what we do... and it powers the nation. Yesterday I saw a bumper sticker that said "The Internet Runs on Coal". Of course some people don't like the coal industry. We need the environmentalists because they keep the energy industries in line. There has to be a balance.

DonSurber said...

Tolja to Instalanche it :)

And thanks for taking yer own shot.

skoot said...

I had bought some photos from a street vendor in Portugal a few years back. Nice work, 11x14 or so with simple mats. One of the pics included a painted tile of a view looking up an alley towards the local castle. Tile probably couple of hundred years old and on the side of a building. Another pic buried in in the pile was an image looking up the same alley, exact same view. When I pointed it out the photographer said hadn't noticed it, just thought both were nice shots.

Barry Pike said...

That is really cool, Rick, that you were able to find the exact spot like that.

However...do you think they photoshopped those stacks to look, you know, a little thinner? I don't know for sure...but I'm against that kind of thing.

Rick Lee said...

I'm not sure I understand what you mean about the stacks looking thinner, but I don't see anything that looks Photoshopped to me. The photo was obviously taken in the Fall when there were more leaves on the trees than now... and the sun was out. Otherwise, it all looks amazingly similar... which indicates to me that it was taken fairly recently. Not this year, but probably last year. The gas grill is even sitting in exactly the same spot. The trees and shrubbery don't seem to have grown much. I didn't have a printout of the original with me when I shot that. It appears that I was standing about 5 feet too far to the right.

RebeccaH said...

I liked the photo. It seemed like something that should evoke some kind of reaction in people, and obviously it did.

Speaking of that, isn't this a photo of the future? I mean, hour-glass shaped stacks are today's technology that will eventually be supplanted by something more elegant and efficient, but there will always be society's need for energy production, no matter what. Should we be afraid of something that is endemic to human society?

Rowena Hullfire said...

I don't know how energy stacks are uniquely Appalachian!? I watched a show on Three Mile Island today on the History Channel...cooling towers right near a Pennsylvania town.

People like certain images of Appalachia, that show nonfashionable housing and people. That exists, however, there is so much beauty here, it's God's country. I'm a transplant here and intend to stay. The land is beautiful and so are the people.

Political leaders in Appalachia also trade on these images to win federal dollars, so we are to blame, too.

Also...alongside the War on Poverty type images, we have great wealth. I live in one of the wealthiest rural cities in the USA, right smack in Central Appalachia.

And yes, that's a lot of resource wealth. Coal, some oil, natural gas. We're also working on coal-to-gas (as in transportation fuel) as is currently used in South Africa. Should help bring down prices at the pump and decrease our reliance on foreign oil. More efficient in BTU translation than ethanol--and I'm a transplant from an ethanol state.

So America, you're welcome for the energy!

Rick Lee said...

I didn't mean to imply that cooling towers are uniquely Appalachian. Obviously, they aren't.

Denny Flood said...

Parts of Pennsylvania are Appalachia. Appalachia can be, of course, a state of mind, but in this case, it's a state of geography.

Anyway, pics like this are what keep me utterly awed.

Sandra said...

Absolutely love this photo!!! Lovely!!!!

- Sandra from Texas

Robert said...

Rowena, I wouldn't want to distract from Rick's brilliant photography, but since it's buried in this comment thread I'll say this anyway. There is a real issue about the burning of fossil fuels of any kind. Global warming seems to be ramping up and CO2 emissions are the major player. I'd rather that resource wealth were kept in the ground. Whether I'd rather see (and hear) wind turbines across your Appalachian mountains is another question!