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Artist Statement (ongoing project)

I was born in Des Moines, and soon after my family got transferred to Salt Lake City, Utah. My family tree is over 100 years old in Iowa, and stretches across the fields of Atlantic to the riverboats of Davenport, so every summer we’d journey back to visit our extended family. As a city kid I loved the farm, the long days of horseback riding, hunting frogs, chasing chickens, riding tractors, jumping in the hay, fishing with my grandfather, and singing around a bonfire with my extended family were like the famous song goes, ‘those were days I thought would never end.’The roads surrounding the old place are covered in white gravel, as the tires rolled down the road the familiar crunch of rubber on rock took me back to those long summer afternoons. The dust billowed behind the car in the perfect warm fall weather as I made the last turn to the old white farmhouse.For a moment I thought I could see my grandmother standing on the porch, waving me in. She and my grandfather are long since gone. Memories washed over me and getting out of the car a light breeze whispered across the fields, “Welcome,” it seemed to say.

Now empty, the house remains a testament to the way things were built to last. Not to say there haven’t been improvements made along the way. My uncle and his family have spent countless hours refurbishing the house, a retreat from the Internet, cell phone and TV. I decided to take full advantage of the silence for two days of bliss in the Iowa countryside.

It had been fifteen years since I’d visited the farm. A new hardwood floor greeted me in the kitchen. Fresh paint filled the rooms and the glass in the windows sparkled. To my surprise, the old furniture and my grandmother’s decorative pottery, so thoughtfully preserved, still hung on the wall. A sense of nostalgia gripped me and I went back outside.

Ten years ago, the old barn had to be refurbished. A local landmark for nearly a century it was saved from total collapse by wrapping it in aluminum. The barn boards are now protected, pressed between refreshed support beams and the modern confines of metal. From the inside you wouldn’t guess you were in an aluminum barn, the weathered wood and vastness of the empty cavity echo with the sounds of days gone by. Standing in the muddy threshold and looking up, I realized it was just as I remembered, dark and moody but somehow still home.

The pigpens, chicken coup and other dwellings are long since gone. Tilled into the soil or taken away for other projects. The land is rented to a local farmer now and the crops grow close to the barn, soybeans this year. I had hoped for sunny weather and got it for my arrival. Those conditions soon changed and I was treated to a big Iowa storm, complete with thunder, lightning, fog and a damp cold. Winter is coming. Back inside the comfort of the house I settled in to listen and watch the storm gyrate across the fields.

My last morning on the farm, the rain had slowed to a drizzle and a dense fog settled over the fields. I wandered out into the soybeans. As I stood in the mud and captured a few frames the light Iowa breeze that greeted me, returned, much cooler than before. The soybeans tickled one another, their leaves gently waving in the cold morning air. I listened. Was there a whisper? Something about the coming harvest or maybe an invitation to stay a little longer. The rain began to fall heavier and to protect my equipment I was forced to leave the field.

Later, as I drove away, I somewhat regrettably plugged back into my life outside of Iowa. The dust that had followed me to the farm was trapped in the mud of the wet gravel roads. As the car crested the hill I glanced at the farm in the rear view mirror. The cell phone chimed to life. The tranquility of the old place faded from view and I hoped I’d return before another fifteen years passed.

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tom lowe photo, llc is based in Studio City, CA USA

tom lowe photo, llc

tacoma, wa 98406



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