Every Place – I have ever lived
The foreclosure crisis in 12 neighborhoods
The pieces in this project each contain images of a foreclosed home in the 12 neighborhoods I’ve lived in. Many were built after wars, in times of what seemed like, boundless economic growth. Home ownership had become symbolic of The American Dream.
Each work is a 4’ x 4’ sheet of raw plywood with two photographs that are printed on fabric. The “inside” photograph is screwed in place. The top image has been made into a window shade that pulls down over the first.
The second and the twelfth pieces were made for a group exhibition at Cleveland Public Art in 2008. The second piece, my childhood home, is the only one in the series where I actually lived in the home.
Sidepieces for each location briefly explain both where the piece fits into my personal biography and provide some information about the neighborhood portrayed.
Maps on the sidepieces show where you are in my personal journey. In addition, there are charts of both the changes in median family income between when the time I lived there and now (based upon the 2000 census) and the changes in racial mix between then and now (based upon the 2010 census).
You cannot tell this story without considering changes in population, race and economics.
Every project I undertake is a journey that reveals its meaning as it is assembled. In Every Place, the original concept was to show how this crisis reaches beyond the very poor and is, in fact, a problem for all of us. This certainly proved to be true. It seems in this series that there are three crises.
There were fine homes that appeared to have been owned by people of means.
In neighborhoods that would, at one time, have been called “blue collar”, it was not the same. Here, it was easy to find multiple foreclosed homes on a street. Curiously, the streets in these neighborhoods still looked intact. Lawns were mowed; properties were in decent shape.
In the inner city it was different. No search on the internet to find these places was necessary. A drive down any of the side streets in the neighborhoods south and north of my parents’ apartment yielded a stream of boarded up properties punctuated by now empty lots. It was clear that efforts had been made in some of these places to keep things together, and the other homes on the street that are occupied were in good shape. In fact, there was mixed-in some relatively new construction – it looked a bit like a forest after a fire as plants begin to reestablish. It is, however, a mistake to be fooled by this optimism. What happened was is horrible and has not ended.
In the end, I just don’t know what to think. When I visited the site of my childhood home a few weeks ago, it had been torn down. It was disturbing. You expect these things to age and change, maybe deteriorate. But disappear?
This feels like a war on the idea of the family home. It is easy to see who lost. I have no idea who won.
The images were made on a large format (wooden) film camera, the film scanned and printed on a digital printer.
The fabric is not normal photo canvas but a new material from Kernewek in Cornwall, UK, distributed in the US by Hawk Mountain Papers. Photo canvas, like painting canvas, has a sizing material that makes it brittle. This material actually behaves like a piece of cloth rather than an “art material”.
The window shades came from Larry and Naomi at Shore Shade Company in Euclid.
Cleveland Lumber Company cut the wood for me. We used the lowest grade of plywood – just perfect for this.
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'Charles J. Mintz: Every Place I Have Ever Lived' exhibit brings the foreclosure crisis home