Jim Dow

Born: July 26, 1942
Resides: Belmont, Massachusetts

Dow’s photography concentrates on architecture that quintessentially defines places, from the overtly grandiose to the totally funky. His subjects include North Carolina barbecue joints, Buenos Aires tango halls, London pie and mash shops, private New York City clubs, the shops of farmers, tinkers and blacksmiths, and minor league baseball parks from coast to coast. He also photographs signs and interiors, the handiwork of untrained folk artists, the welded fantasies that farmers create to entertain themselves in the dead of winter, oddball collections of pencils and religious statues, and anything else that takes his fancy. Ultimately, Dow photographs the stuff that adds up, in the most casual of ways, to what it means to be human.

Dow is best known for his three-part panoramic photographs of baseball stadiums, a project that began with an image he made of Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia in 1980. Using an old-fashioned view camera making eight-by-ten-inch negatives, Dow has recorded more than two hundred major and minor league parks in the United States and Canada. As he explains it, "The bigger, fancier stadiums are the places where the dreamers gather to watch their fantasies played out in front of them. The little ones are where dreamers gather to play.

Using multiple color images, Jim Dow creates highly detailed panoramas offering an unusual view of the ballparks as seen from a fan’s point of view. Developed while photographing soccer stadiums in England and influenced by pioneering photographer Walker Evans, Dow’s vision results in “astonishing, disturbing, and wholly unexpected” images of the empty spaces. “I have an old-fashioned, romantic approach to picture-making and architecture,” Dow says. “But I’m not interested in making specimens, I’m interested in synthesizing an experience.”

February 5, 2010
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