Barn, West Union by Loren Nelson

  • Title: Barn, West Union
  • Artist: Loren Nelson
  • Medium: Gelatin silver print
  • Size: 16"h x 20"w
  • Creation date: 1989
  • Added to collection: 2014
  • Donor: Purchased by Portland Community College, Rock Creek Campus
  • Campus: Rock Creek
  • Location: B7/2 Main Hallway gallery

Abandoned farms are a familiar sight in Oregon.  Loren Nelson has photographed a number of these beautiful ruins, as well as series of dilapidated industrial structures.  This one is not far from the Rock Creek Campus, off a little gravel road by Oak Hills that eventually became Bethany Boulevard.   Loren Nelson and his father, a retired commercial artist, used to drive out looking for subjects like this one with son taking pictures and father making charcoal drawings.  They called this barn "the Swiss Cheese Barn" after the holes in the roof.  Not long after Nelson took this picture he learned the barn had collapsed in a storm.

The dark foreground with its lovely details of wildflowers, the glowing and soft middle ground, and the gnarly dark farm and horizon create a deep sense of space, completed by the light far hills and complex shredded clouds in the sky.  Although the image of the abandoned farm is almost a cliché in the visual arts, this work as well as another work in the collection (Derelict Portuguese Farmhouse I by Kevin Kadar)  both show that clichés can be transcended by a heightened quality of looking.