WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS Amy Wald Photo by Ed Verosky
Arresting the old and new milestones of Austin into lasting pictorial moments, artist and photographer Jann Alexander keeps the history and culture of this city alive and unforgotten. Her artwork captures the everyday sights that we Austinites encounter and enjoy, and reminds us of the ones that are now gone and replaced. Thanks to Alexander, Austin will never fully vanish from our memories.
– Jann Alexander Photographer and Painter www.vanishingaustin.com
Best known for her Vanishing Austin series, painter and photographer Jann Alexander captures what the city is all about—literally. She draws upon the city’s neon colors, signage, and textures to create vivid photographic memories that won’t fade away (or be bought out by a Walgreens). When Alexander first moved to Austin in 2004, she fell in love with the city. “It got under my skin,” says Alexander. “I felt like it was where I was meant to be. Austin is a city of eye candy. It is so appealing, both visually and architecturally.” However, Alexander soon found that the things she had moved to Austin for were slowly disappearing. From the Frisco Shop to Lucy’s Boatyard, the classic Austin haunts on the other side of her camera lens were soon no more. Thus, Vanishing Austin was born.
What has influenced your work? “Mexico—particularly the mission churches. There’s a simple beauty in the architecture that you don’t find in other forms of buildings. I’m also inspired by urban scenes—the texture, pattern, and light of it all.” Do you prefer painting or photography? “I couldn’t pick. Photography is as natural for me as having five fingers on my hand. Each inspires the other. I’ve been doing photography since I was 20 and painting for the last three years. I love to paint—it’s very Zen for me. I can get lost in it. But with photography, I’m very alert and on. I like the yin and yang of it.” What do you love about art? “The ingenuity and infinity of it all—what people can come up with is infinite. I’m in awe of the creativity out there.”
With over 50 images, the collection features architectural treasures that have long since met their demise. But Vanishing Austin is not just about preserving the past. “Las Manitas (Avenue Café) is the iconic Vanishing Austin image,” explains Alexander. “It captures everything about the series—the old juxtaposed against the new. I like the way new and old architecture can peacefully coexist.” And so Alexander continues to use her art to immortalize the Austin that once was, while celebrating the Austin that is.
RARE AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009