"Main Street," book. Photographs by Danny Singer. Essay by Grant Arnold.
Main Street: Towns, Villages and Hamlets of the Great Plains
Danny Singer (George F. Thompson Publishing)
This handsome coffee-table book could easily be dubbed Big Sky, Little Town. Page after page shows main streets strung across the bottom of horizontal photographs, most topped by the cerulean skies so much a part of the flatland experience. Shot in the Prairie provinces as well as several states south of the border, these photographs will fascinate anyone with small-town roots.
The images share a sensibility – perhaps, it’s the lack of pretension of stores and cafes set out like provisional stage pieces for some slow-moving drama. Yet they also hold great specificity: the model goose taking wing by the seniors’ centre in Quill Lake, Sask., for instance, speaks to the idiosyncrasies of a place free of the franchises and big-box stores that delineate urban space.
Singer has digitally stitched together dozens of individual shots for each image. And while they may seem to be seamless spreads, each actually incorporates multiple viewpoints, says Grant Arnold, a curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery. He writes in an accompanying essay that pictorial space is structured to evoke “tension between the fixed, single point of view of the camera and the temporally grounded character of human experience.”