Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dying mall with American flag

2008, oil and pastel on paper, @20x28in.

We visited my home town last March. Toledo, Ohio. It was a rainy week so one day my mother, my wife and I took my son to Soutwyck Mall, where a carousel still runs even though most of the stores have left. I was kind of intrigued by the dying mall, which reminded me of a Romero movie. It was the mall where we played video games and watched movies and drank Orange Juliuses when I was growing up. So it was strange to see the doors shuttered and locked, but all the fixtures still bright and clean, the place mostly used by senior citizens getting in their morning exercise on a rainy day by walking the halls in their running shoes and track outfits. I took some photographs, including the one upon which this picture is based, and I believe that sometime in the next year or so I'll do a series based on the images of this dying mall.

In general, I was kind of saddened to see how my home town had grown kind of shabby in the years since I left. Roads in bad shape, malls emptying while new ones are built even further and further away from the city's center. To say nothing of the downtown, which started its slide some thirty years ago (was very sad to see the science center in the old Portside mall had closed). The image above is from the center fountain area of the mall. Its wide, plush carpeted, green steps was a place to hang out with friends, but the giant flag was not there when I was growing up, so I take it to be a post-9/11 decoration. There were still a few shops there when we were there -- a tattoo parlor, a couple gender-specific Foot Lockers, a couple other athletic stores. Just a weird, eerie feeling.

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