“31 Days” by Chris Lowell


Chris Lowell’s heartfelt black and white poem to summer at Jackson Fine Art.

From Jackson Fine Art:
Jackson Fine Art is excited to announce our summer exhibitions by Atlanta-native Chris Lowell and celebrated street photographer, Vivian Maier.  “31 Days”, a body of large black and white traditional silver gelatin photographs, chronicles Lowell’s nostalgic return to his family’s lake house. “31 Days” is Lowell’s second exhibition and first solo exhibition at Jackson Fine Art.  In addition, we will be showing a selection of “life at leisure” summer beach photographs by acclaimed nationally recognized and recently discovered photographer and nanny Vivian Maier. This will be the second exhibition of Maier’s work at Jackson Fine Art.

Chris Lowell was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, his childhood and adolescence was marked by excursions to the family lake house. Nestled at the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, Lake Rabun held memories of carefree days of swimming, water skiing, roasting marshmallows, after dinner card games, skinny dipping into chilly water, and finally dropping off to sleep as cicadas sing.  When Lowell’s family sold the lake house, he left Manhattan to spend one final month in the summer home of his childhood.  “31 Days” documents this last month as a tribute to place and the magic of youth, created in resistance to inevitable change.  The lake continues to exist after we leave, as a revolving stage from one family to the next in a photo album of collected Neverlands.

Lowell studied photography at the University of Southern California and The New School in New York, and has exhibited in Los Angeles. He has photographed for several non-profit organizations and his work is included both prestigious public and private collections.  Lowell also works as an actor and screenwriter, his credits include “The Help,” “Up in the Air,” “Private Practice” and “The Veronica Mars Movie.”  His poetry and short stories have been published in 12th Street Magazine.

I posted Chris’s artist statement below his images.

The facts:
Chris Lowell: 31 Days
Vivian Maier: Summer
July 10 – August 30, 2014
Jackson Fine Art
3115 East Shadowlawn Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30305
Phone: 404 233-3739

Image courtesy of Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta and the artist. Image copyright Chris Lowell.

Image courtesy of Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta and the artist. Image copyright Chris Lowell.

Image courtesy of Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta and the artist. Image copyright Chris Lowell.

Image courtesy of Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta and the artist. Image copyright Chris Lowell.

Image courtesy of Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta and the artist. Image copyright Chris Lowell.

Artist Statement:

I never left the house on Pearson Lane. My body left the house: the organs and the muscles and the tiny joints. My footsteps led to ignitions and gas pedals, and gas pedals led to the distances that have since grown between my body and the house of stone and wood and shingle on Pearson Lane. But I never really left.

The house was something magical – I don’t say this wistfully, but with absolute certainty – a spark of which must be attributed to its location. Georgia (the South in general) has always been a proprietor of enchantment: the hanging moss in the trees… the inescapable, almost biblical, swarms of mosquitoes in the summertime… the honeysuckle… the peaches… the heat… the thunderstorms…

The South is a doorway into the past and southerners cling to it with the unbearable stubbornness of red Georgia clay. Outsiders tend to become fascinated with the seeming arrested development of the region: its tempo, its hospitality, its taboos. At its worst, the South can be close-minded and hardened to change. But at its best? At its best, the South can still believe in magic.

Do you see those bunk beds? That’s where my sisters would sleep. My friends and I would take the ladder down to the boathouse and crawl onto the roof. We’d strip down naked and jump into the water. We’d howl at the full moon. We would park our boat alongside that dam and peek over the edge. We’d have dance parties in the living room. Our dogs would chase squirrels in the garden. We’d play hide and go seek in the backyard. We’d set off fireworks.

The mason jars on the porch? We filled them with cocktails before we knew how cocktails were meant to taste. We caught butterflies in those jars. And lightning bugs. I remember.

When my mother told me she had sold the house on Pearson Lane I left my apartment in Manhattan and moved back to Georgia in a classic southern attempt to cling to the past. Everyone came back to Georgia, friend and family alike. We returned to the house of our collective childhood. And that desperate, hopeless return to our youth became the backbone of these photographs.

In contrast or perhaps rebellion, my twin sisters – still children themselves – accelerated their behavior in the opposite direction (as children do), toward adulthood. They adopted somber expressions in front of the camera. They dressed in “grown-up” clothes. And so we danced this way, all of us together – children acting like adults, and adults like children – eager to deny an unconquerable passage of time, eager to believe.

We were given thirty-one days to say our goodbyes. I arrived at the house with the sole intention of photographing the magic. I was going to bottle up my childhood memories inside those mason jars. I was going to call the project “Neverland” and it was going to be heartbreaking and mythical and perfect.

The only problem with Neverland is that it doesn’t exist. And despite my best efforts, there was no denying that some spectacle of youth had already come and gone from this house. The sailboat sat on the side of the driveway now, caked in dirt, its mast broken during a storm I never got to see. Only one of our dogs was still living, and now she needed nightly dialysis injections. The small cabin next door had been torn down, and in its place a behemoth construction was underway. The naked bodies I remember had also changed. They looked different now: the skin heavier, the wrinkles more defined. And each day looked, more and more, like the last.

But we still saw thunderstorms…

And the lightning bugs still drifted around the garden. We still went skinny-dipping. And our dog still barked when someone new arrived to the house. We played games, took naps, went swimming. We wrote poems in crayon underneath the kitchen drawers. It was summer camp. It was sex-ed. It was wine tasting and a gateway drug. It was the shape of the moonlight. It was every single firecracker on the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. It was my mother’s children. It was my imagination. It was twenty-six years and all of my youth. It lasted for thirty-one days and thirty-one nights: a single month for most, but a lifetime for those of us who are butterflies.