DAVID H. WELLS | Foreclosed Dreams


Foreclosed Dreams

Providence, Rhode Island, 2010, Color Photograph

DAVID H. WELLS, Providence, Rhode Island (2010) Color Photograph

Guest Curated by Viera Levitt

April 18 – May 12, 2013

Opening Reception:
Thursday, April 18, 2013, 5PM – 9PM
During Gallery Night Providence

Salon at The Providence Athenaeum:
Friday, April 19, 2013, 5PM – 7PM
Sponsored by James Brayton Hall

Special Performances of Gather by Community MusicWorks throughout April:
Dates to be announced online

Gallery Hours:
Thursday + Friday, 3PM – 8PM
Saturday + Sunday, 12PM – 5PM
Other days by appointment.

Yellow Peril Gallery is pleased to present FORECLOSED DREAMS, a photo essay by David H. Wells exploring the empty homes and foreclosed dreams in the wake of the foreclosure crisis.  This exhibition is guest curated by Viera Levitt.

Owning a home is the American dream. However, numerous American homeowners are either behind on their mortgage payments or in the process of foreclosure. Their empty homes are powerful symbols of lives shattered and families devastated. This is the reality FORECLOSED DREAMS documents and explores.

After a house is foreclosed and current owners forced out, there is a fleeting moment when the ghosts of the one-time owners are all that is left – before the houses are cleaned and returned to the real estate market. The remaining signs of life photographed during this period of time echo the voices and footsteps that once filled these emptied houses. David Wells listens to these echoes and provides a calm view of details and objects of everyday life that were left behind as if people were to come back in a minute, unfinished sandwiches, valuable awards, books, photographs of their happiness, children’s toys, that were clearly an intimate part of somebody’s life and lost their importance, meaning, lost the context of everyday presence of the users of the house. Wells’ camera often documents these spaces from unusual angles emphasizing the object in the front, as ghost from the past, as embodiment of the memory that has nobody to decipher now.

“I focused on empty homes, as they are immovable objects and stand in stark contrast to the highly mobile American dream.  I chose not to focus on individual families in foreclosure because I wanted to explore the issue from a broader perspective,” notes Well.  “The final work is made more powerful by its lack of literalism and its attention to chillingly mundane objects. An open-ended canvas, viewers can project their own ideas into the photographs – about home, America and family into the empty spaces of the houses.”

Spreading across the nation like an epidemic, the number of foreclosures is so vast and the problem so overwhelming that most people considering the issue simply get lost among the numbers. Wells started the project in April of 2009, with the goal of understanding the economic upheaval we are living through. He initially photographed in the Central Valley of California, an epicenter of the foreclosure crisis, but also focused on Rhode Island where he lives, which has a foreclosure rate very similar to that of California. More recently he has photographed in other states including Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

“Telling the story visually connects the viewer to the realities on the ground,” says Wells.  “The work explores the large numbers and the intimate nature of the traumatic losses others suffered. Simply put, my audience is anyone who is worrying about the possible foreclosure of their own dreams, those who have already experienced that trauma and anyone concerned or interested in what’s happening to the American dream.”

On Friday, April 19, the Providence Athenaeum will host a Salon featuring photographer David H. Wells, Community MusicWorks Managing Director Kimberly Young, and Yellow Peril Curator Robert P. Stack in a conversation exploring the role of the arts in promoting social change. The discussion will highlight Wells’s work, as well as Community MusicWorks’ project, Gather, taking place throughout April, in which the musicians of CMW will partner with designers and a community development organization to host a series of intimate performances of Beethoven’s final composition for string quartet in a formerly distressed private home in Providence’s Olneyville neighborhood. Performance dates will be shared online when finalized. The Salon is from 5 to 7pm at the Providence Athenaeum, 251 Benefit Street, and is free and open to the public; the sponsor is James Brayton Hall.

The opening reception for FORECLOSED DREAMS is on Thursday, April 18, from 5PM – 9PM during Gallery Night Providence.  The exhibition will be on display through Sunday, May 12, 2013.

About David H. Wells
DAVID H. WELLS is a freelance photographer affiliated with Aurora Photos and a photo educator living in Providence, RI. His work has been featured in one-person exhibits at Brown University, Providence, RI; University of California, Berkeley, CA; and Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. His work has been part of group exhibitions at the Houston FotoFest and the Visa pour l’Image Festival in Perpignan, France. He has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Visual Studies Workshop and the Light Works Photography Center. Wells has taught classes at the University of Pennsylvania as well as workshops at the International Center for Photography, NYC, and the Maine Media Workshops. Wells’ photo essays have been funded by fellowships from Nikon/NPPA, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the MacArthur Foundation’s Program of Research and Writing on International Peace and Cooperation, the Alicia Patterson Foundation, and the Fulbright Foundation.  For more info, visit www.davidhwells.com.

About The Providence Atheneum
THE PROVIDENCE ATHENAEUM, founded as “The Athenaeum” in 1836, is an independent, member-supported library open to the public. As a unique independent, member-supported library and cultural center, The Athenaeum welcomes and enriches the educational and cultural pursuits of its members and the community and encourages a diverse public to engage in spirited conversation. It offers a wide range of experiences by providing and conserving extraordinary collections, offering innovative and compelling programs, promoting and collaborating with the community’s vibrant cultural sector, and highlighting and preserving its historic building.  For more info about The Providence Athenaeum, visit providenceathenaeum.org.

About James Brayton Hall
JAMES BRAYTON HALL is the newly appointed Deputy Director of The Norton Museum of Art. Hall comes to the Norton from the Providence Preservation Society (PPS), where he has served as Executive Director since 2010. Prior to that, Hall was Assistant Director of the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), after serving for twenty years as Director of Campus Design and Exhibitions at RISD.

About Community MusicWorks
Founded in 1997, COMMUNITY MUSICWORKS (CMW) is a nationally recognized community-based organization that uses music education and performance as a vehicle to build lasting and meaningful relationships between children, families, and professional musicians in urban neighborhoods of Providence, RI.  Founded by Sebastian Ruth with start-up funding from the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University, the program began modestly in 1997 with 15 violin students. Today, CMW is a thriving organization with 12 professional resident musicians and more than 100 neighborhood children participating free of charge — some for as long as 10 years — regardless of talent or ability.  CMW was built around the permanent residency of the Providence String Quartet, which was founded in 2001. Participants in CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program for young professional musicians comprise the Fellows String Quartet. Fellows also perform in collaboration with the members of the Providence String Quartet and CMW’s other resident musicians as the Community MusicWorks Players. All resident musicians teach instrument lessons, mentor students, perform locally, and organize community-building and educational events.  For more info about Community MusicWorks, visit communitymusicworks.org.

About Viera Levitt
Curator and photographer VIERA LEVITT settled in the United States in 2006 following her Artslink Residency at RISD’s Graduate Studies and an internship in the Photography Department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. After 3 years as the Director of the CCRI Knight Campus Art Gallery, she has, since September 2012, worked as the Gallery Director for the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. Before moving to the United States, Viera studied the History of Art in Trnava, 30 miles from the Slovak capital of Bratislava and 80 miles from Vienna. In Trnava, she also served as the youngest public art museum director in Slovak history. From 1996 to the present, she has curated or co-curated more than 70 exhibitions in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, and in the USA and has lectured about contemporary art in Bratislava, Brno, Berlin, Rotterdam, Hiroshima, New Delhi, Caracas, Nairobi, as well as in Rhode Island, Connecticut or Massachusetts

About Yellow Peril Gallery
YELLOW PERIL GALLERY is a contemporary art gallery located at The Plant, a historic mill complex in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence, Rhode Island. The Gallery strives to foster modern art critiques on popular culture and society from established and emerging artists in the United States and abroad. We aspire to exhibit provocative and visually arresting artwork created specifically to ignite conversations long after viewers have left the building. Artists that we represent share our commitment to social responsibility, and a percentage from the sale of all artwork is donated to a charitable organization of the Artists’ choice. For more info about future exhibitions, visit yellowperilgallery.com.

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If you’d like more information about this press release, or to schedule an interview with DAVID H. WELLS, please contact Robert P. Stack at +1 718 501 8766 or via e-mail at robert@yellowperilgallery.com.