Years ago while I was visiting friends in Pendleton, Oregon, I discovered artwork by Denise Smith, a local rancher and artist.
Weeks later, back in Seattle, I googled Denise’s artwork and found her website and contact information. We quickly struck up a friendship through emails. I was drawn to her lifestyle, so different than my own urban daily experience.
As I planned my next road trip, Denise invited me to stop by her ranch. I discovered that there was a ghost town called Hardman nearby and decided to make a trip of it. When I told Denise, she invited herself along, saying she had wanted to explore that ghost town for quite a while.
When I got to her ranch I discovered two things. One - that I had not over romanticized her western lifestyle as a rancher and artist and two, that Denise and I took an easy liking to one another. Within a few hours of meeting, we were on our way to Hardman, Oregon.
We had no idea that the photos we took that day would evolve into a two women art show that would be exhibited in various venues over the course of a few years.
We researched Hardman’s history as we prepared for our exhibits. We came across old photographs, a postcard sent to someone in Hardman one hundred years ago, and a copy of the March 17, 1900 edition of the Hardman Homestead, the town’s short lived newspaper. We found snippets of western history, and even a box full of unused cereal boxes from a cereal outfit that used to operate out of Hardman during its’ boom about 100 years before we drove into town. I created a history board from the writings and imagery we found to accompany our art show, Two Women, One Ghost Town.
I took many photographs of the ghost town and chose to exhibit my favorite six. I turned them into Polaroid Transfers which I then manipulated in Photoshop. I had them printed, as a limited edition, as Giclees. They are printed on an Epson printer, using archival inks and Entrada paper, sized 20" x 24."
Creating these final six pieces was a new process for me. The uniqueness and strangeness of Hardman inspired this exploration into new territory.