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Looking For Remains Of The Mythic West

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In each photograph, Joan Myers shows us the West both as we want it to be and as we fear it's become: a plywood buffalo stands before a piñon-dotted mesa, a neon saguaro glows against a starry night, a mountain worthy of photographer Ansel Adams rises over tourists and their lime-green cooler.  In her striking new book, Where The Buffalo Roamed: Images of the New West, the Santa Fe-based photographer asks us how the myth of the West can survive the realities of modern life.

In some ways Joan Myers' work is a response to Ansel Adams and his mythic views of the American landscape.  "I was never attracted by the grand landscape," says Myers.  "I think Adams did it very well, but it seemed a little dishonest to me.  I've always been interested in the human traces on the landscape, because we've managed to put our traces everywhere at this point.  So it seems to me that's a really important thing to show in photographs." 

In this more complete version of the interview, Myers talks in greater detail about what she's photographed in her travels, in particular the work of "itinerant mural painters" who've left their mark "in small towns all across the West."

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Spencer Beckwith reports on the arts for KUNM. For ten years, until March of 2014, Spencer was the producer and host of KUNM's "Performance New Mexico," a weekday morning arts program that included interviews with musicians, writers and performers. Spencer is a graduate of the acting program at the Juilliard School, and, before moving to New Mexico in 2002, was for many years a professional actor based in New York City.
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