My parents had a summer cabin built on the edge of a remote lake in northerwestern Maine in 1959. On vacations, I loved everything about life in the north country. I used to photograph the wildlife, mountains, the diverse and friendly people. It was great learning about a slower pace of life, the country farms, knowing the elderly and always smiling “egg lady”, potato farmers, and picking all the wild edible berries. I admired the old barns which dotted the landscape in the valleys between the mountains. Most of the barns that are now unused were once home for cows, chickens, and a place to keep the hay dry as well as the farm machinery. I’ve watched many of the barns slowly deteriorate and eventually collapse over the last 50 years. Some are now being renovated, or rebuilt with plastic or aluminum siding.
During 2012 I began documenting the texture and the spirit of these hand-made historic buildings. I spoke with some barn owners about the history of their barns. They allowed me to put water-based ink on the old shingles. I documented their shapes and textures by pressing my fingers gently against the paper to create an imprint of their strength, endurance, and slow sad demise in a semi-abstract format that speaks of their overlapping relationships in space and movement over time.
Many of my prints are from a unique shed constructed in 1847 that is in the form of a small barn, protecting a circular stone well that is about 6 feet in diameter on property that was originally owned by Squire Rangeley, one of the first homes and farms in Rangeley, Maine. (Please see photographs in the Gallery)
During a few weeks during three trips, from 2012 – 2014, I created well over 100 prints, some of which are in this gallery. While working on the barn prints, I thought about the origins of the old wooden shingles, so the project progressed to making bark prints from local trees, and then driftwood prints from the shore of Lake Mooselookmeguntic. In my imagination, I wondered if some of the aged driftwood is related to the original wood that was used when the old barns were first built.
The prints are available for purchase, as well as copies in photographic format. The original one-of-a kind prints range in price from $350. to $1400.
I did not measure each print for this site. The dimensions of the print (excluding the dimensions of the paper) range from 5 “ x 7” to 20” x 26” with the average somewhere in between. Complete information on particular artwork is available on request; gallery inquires are welcome.
Paul Cahan Dec. 2014
Please click on images thumbnails for larger view: