Written and Photographed by Jennifer Carrera Turner
My love of old houses began when I was about 12 years old. That was 35 years ago. My father was a Union Representative of the Southeastern States and we were afforded the convenience of travel to state conferences in the South. Since we lived in Florida it was best to travel by car through the states. We often did a lot of traveling like this to many other states in the country as well as for vacations as a family, occasionally flying out west to California or Washington.
My father could recount as well as I can, the number of times when I got my first camera how I pleaded : “Please, please dad” to stop at all of the old houses on the side of the road in some small forgotten town on a once well traveled route. Perhaps before some major highway was built or the railroad began bypassing them altogether. These houses with their transparent paint, exposed weathered wood and crumbling roofes and decaying large front porches. They were like these sad discarded works of American history and life that someone left behind to rot for one reason or another. Maybe there were no heirs, they could not maintain the property or pay the taxes. Whatever the reason they stand as monuments of our past. For so many decades America tries to make way for something newer and better. They want to destroy its historic architectural heritage or cover it up.
In the early 1990’s there was a house in New Port Richey built in 1882 on Stevens Drive. It was a two story all wooden house with a porch at the front, both top and bottom. The porches extended the whole width of the front of the house and was screened in. It was painted white with the usual old Florida green trim around the eaves and window frames. It had not been painted in years so you can see the grey oxidized grains of the wood beneath. We had to pass this house a couple of times of year to visit my mother’s parents who lived down that street. I always looked at it wondering about the people who had lived there as it was clearly vacant but not boarded up. I wanted to know who built it and thought about what it was like for them at that time with such limited resources in that rural part of Florida. I never spoke about it to my grandparents I just kept my thoughts to myself. This is a regret I will never forget.
In 1992 on another trip to New Port Richey that old house on Steven’s drive had burnt down. We drove past it and I stared in absolute horror that the entire top floor to nearly the bottom was blackened as coal. We soon arrived at my grandparents’ house. I asked my grandfather (Wilbur Lavonne Underhill) and he said “They believe it was a homeless person. It’s possible they accidently set the house on fire. The night it happened your grandmother and I could see the flames from here while listening to the loud wooshing noise they made” consuming the house. I was so upset that the house was destroyed along with never having the courage to find out more about the history of it. In fact, I could have gone inside to see what it was like. It was only a year later that my grandfather unexpectedly passed away at the age of 67 that we visited again for his funeral. I had a small charred piece of wood from that house (that I took from the heaps) that I tucked into his jacket pocket along with a letter in his casket. After the funeral we returned back to my grandparents home. I walked across the street to speak with the owner of that house that was now gone. I never knew that the family actually lived in a newer house at the back of the property until then. I was in tears telling the man everything I described above. He offered his condolences and then brought out to show me an antique photo from the late 1800’s of the house. It was sepia toned and in a simple wooden frame with glass. He grew up in it and years later it became too much to repair and update to current electrical and plumbing standards so they built the newer house on a different part of the property towards the back.
I have a book titled “A Field Guide to American Architecture” by Virginia & Lee McAlester (1984). One of my most beloved books in my collection. I purchased the book in the early 1990’s. One of the photos is of a federal style architecture house in North Carolina that ultimately became an obsession. The black & white photo is of an abandoned two story wooden house in a rural field of grasses. The only mentioned location beneath it was the county and state. There is no further information. This is at a time when the internet was very new . Google was not the information powerhouse that it is today and Google maps were non existent. There was no shortcut to make this an easy find.
I decided to make a pilgrimage to find the house with only a physical printed map of North Carolina in hand. There was no GPS in these days as well. It was a couple days travel from South Florida to reach the destination county. When I arrived in the county, I went to the local libraries to gain access to local maps, history and to show the page from the book to people who lived in the area. I actually found that house with such limited research its still astonishing. Nothing can describe what I felt when I pulled up to the house for the very first time and to actually finally see it in person. It was incredible. I was in tears. Someone was inside of it in the middle of a full restoration and unfortunately the walls had already been stripped so I did not get to see what the original plaster and molding had been like and the sizes of the original rooms. I was a little late. At least someone had saved it and was restoring it. As a cherished keepsake the owner presented me an enormous tapered wooden pine peg which was used instead of nails to hold the house frame together. I will cherish it always. It was a rewarding journey that can never be forgotten.
I continued to travel and photograph more old structures long before urban explorers appeared on YouTube with their secretive missions to film for our obsessive group of observers from afar. Since the mid-90’s I’ve experienced the interiors of many abandoned properties both being completely untouched and some in the midst of restorations. Everything I’ve written thus far is such a condensed version of who I am and what I’ve seen. Although there is so much more about myself I felt that I need to give at least a small introduction to my project below.
I know that there are a lot of people like me out there – our love for these decayed relics of American dwellings throughout our short history. I only hope that everyone who searches out these places have the respect or very reverence for the sacred experience that can be felt while walking through a place where not many people have been in so many years. Unfortunately there are those who are vandals, and they deface and destroy these incredible gems that have been locked in time.
In 2022 I visited the property below which will remain private to ensure the safety of the location. It is a five hour drive from where I live and I had six months in planning what I was going to bring and do. I photographed everything myself and I needed to be in some of the photos as it is a portrait of myself as it is of the actual house. Everything I photographed has a lot of meaning to me besides just showing the condition of each part of the old house.
It was built in 1900 in an area where the railroad was supplying the merchandise and passengers to the small town. It was a very successful area during the early to mid 1900’s until like so many other small cities – other means of travel like major highways being created and flight bypassed them completely. It left this one as many others nearly as a ghost town.
What is incredible and so valuable about this house is it that you can look past the furniture being piled up and the broken glass every place you step, I can immediately see that the walls, trim and floors are exactly original today as it was in 1900. There are no drop ceilings, no wallpaper, no paneling covering the original plaster. The paint on the walls is still there, the colors they chose. The beautiful dark wooden floors that creak while you walk are still original without any hideous later updates covering them. Even the furniture it is all period correct. This IS the furniture the house was born with. It is all still there. Perhaps a few items here and there are from later decades but if you flip everything over, push in the drawers and move them into place YOU are in the year 1900.
This house lost to ravishes of time for whatever the reason may have been – it had belonged to someone as their American Dream.
At one time this was (as it is now for my current experience) a world of so much to be admired and appreciated. It is so beautiful.
The last printed publication inside this house is from the mid 1980’s. It has stood vacant now for almost 40 years. Interestingly enough the year of vacancy coincided with the removal of the railroad tracks that ran directly across the street in the front of the house.
What this project represents to me is a lifelong dream to look beyond the chaos and into the soul of a house that once stood proud and beautiful but just like us it is fading away as the years pass by.
Written and photographed by Jennifer Carrera Turner
Art Basel Miami Beach the world’s grandest international art fair in the Americas closed out with strong sales and an overall attendance of 76,000 guests during the span of five days. This was the largest show on record as it celebrated its 20th year in the city of Miami Beach, Florida, United States.
There were 282 premier galleries exhibiting from 38 countries and territories as well as specially curated exhibitions presented by 29 galleries within the Kabinett sector, besides the Meridian Sector showing 20 additional projects of enormous scales from emerging and renowned artists curated by Magalí Arriola, Director of Museo Tamayo in Mexico City for the third year.
Highlighted artists from the Meridians Sector include but not limited to:
· “Sojourner” by Cauleen Smith. (2018 – 2022) Presented by Morán Morán and
Corbett vs. Dempsey.
· “Let the Mermaids Flirt with Me” by Christopher Myers. (2022)
Presented by James Cohan Gallery.
· “The Grove” by Devan Shimoyama (2021) Presented by Kavi Gupta.
· “Columbus Day” by Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds. (2019-2020) Presented by K Art.
· “Birth” by Judy Chicago. (1984) Presented by Jessica Silverman.
· “Silla” by Maria Jose Arjona. (2011) Presented by Rolf Art.
· “Corpo Ranfla 2.0” by rafa esparza. (2022) Presented by Commonwealth and Council.
· “Muholi V” by Zanele Muholi (2022) Presented by Stevenson.
Highlighted artists of the Kabinett Sector include but not limited to:
· Alberta Whittle, Izumi Kato, Ascânio MMM, Margot Bergman, Romare Bearden and
I attended Art Basel over the December 3rd weekend spending several hours meeting gallery representatives and photographing art. I selected some pieces that I enjoyed the most in both mid-century and contemporary periods that I am showing here below. These pieces are not in a specific order of importance as they all hold tremendous value each in their own way that cannot be compared.
We have just survived Art Week in Miami, FL. The traffic and the enormous crowds cannot keep any of us away from the most anticipated South Florida Event of the year involving all things Fine Art. As the majority of us were making our pilgrimage in droves to the internationally famous Art Basel Miami Beach, we may also enjoy the smaller Art Fairs throughout the city which draws collectors and admirers alike.
It was while I was attending Art Basel Miami Beach preparing for a curating article that I met the PR agent for emerging artist Jordana Hanono. Once I was shown examples of her work I was completely floored. Jordana was participating at Aqua Art located on famous South Beach Miami’s Collins Avenue during Art Week December 1st -4th. VIP preview was held on Wednesday November 30th.
I now want to introduce you to this incredible emerging artist. I truly believe that her creative vision, skill and talent will bring her the ultimate status of a prosperous and highly collectible professional Artist. In saying this, she is in fact well on her way to her coveted achievements. I had the pleasure of contacting her and interviewing her for this personal article.
Who is Jordana Hanono?
In her free time, you can find her making art — whether she is creating paintings, drawing, shading, or pressing her work onto streetwear which she shares with her friends. She originally started with drawings of family members and simple objects and then progressed into more technical mediums. In 2019, she attended a summer program at the School of Visual Arts, where she was introduced to nude drawing and painting, which characterizes much of her work today. Recently, she has experimented with creating images using crystal mosaics. Despite painstakingly placing each crystal one at a time, she enjoys the medium because it allows for a very granular control over the piece’s coloration and detail. Hanono’s work has been displayed in the David Rosen Galleries, Gallery Mavruk, Wentworth Gallery, New Area Art Gallery, Rochester Riverside Convention, 2021 All-County Art Exhibition, New York Board of Education Building, the local library, and her high school. Her first show took place at the Aqua hotel in Miami, during “Miami Art Week”. Hanono is studying art at Hunter college and hopes to make a career from it thereafter.
Q & A Jordana Hanono
What is the name of the Art Fair you participated in last week in Miami?
How have you participated in Aqua Art Fair?
I exhibited eighteen pieces at the aqua art fair. Most of which were created with swarovski crystals and would be considered pop art.
As a young emerging artist, have you developed a unique identifiable style?
I do not identify with a singular style. In recent years I have been experimenting with a variety of mediums and styles. Currently, I am focusing on pop art and mixed media. I love the creative freedom pop art offers. However, with that said I am best known for my work with swarovski crystals. Hand placing tens of thousands of crystals per piece is eye catching.
What are the mediums that you prefer?
I love working with spray paint and acrylic paint as the basis of my paintings. Additionally, I love experimenting with uncommon materials as well, such as newspaper, baseball cards, pouring paint, gold foil, and swarovski crystals.
Who influenced you the most for becoming an artist?
I was lucky enough to have parents who have always supported my passion. They encouraged me to do something I love in life and continue with this path. Dali is my favorite artist. He strongly influenced my early art. Although our styles are different I valued his approach to his art. He was outside of the box and very original.
How long have you been creating?
I have been creating art all my life. I began taking my art seriously during the pandemic. I wanted to make the most of the free time I had.
Where do you see yourself as an artist 10 years from now?
By the age of twenty eight, I hope to be a well known artist that inspires other young artists like myself. I see myself displaying in many more galleries. But even more so, I see myself owning my own gallery. Additionally, I would like to see my art displayed in other countries as well. It has always been a dream of mine to study and display in Europe.
Solo Photography Exhibition by Jennifer Carrera Turner featuring “Historic Catholic Churches” Religious Series and includes the introduction of “The Obsolete Existence: Industrial American Landscape”. This exhibition is the reception event following the “Duo Lopez Tabor” concert, performed by Mozart-Brahms-Latin American Duo: Alfonso Lopez, violinist and Michelle Tabor, pianist held at 3:00pm, January 21, 2018. St. Patrick Catholic Church, Palm Beach Gardens, FL.
When you are enthralled by something so simplistic yet so striking – as simple as the most basic steel architectural structures. That’s how I feel about Quonset Huts. It’s a Fine Art Photography Project that is personal at most. Now added to the Industrial Series Photography Portfolio.
It was the seventh season of SuperCar Week in West Palm Beach, FL. A nine day event filled with the most unimaginable activities that any auto enthusiast both the average Joe and the VIP could appreciate. Most events were free to the general public, and the VIP enjoyed some really exclusive privileges that makes the upgrade worthwhile. If you are not a participator, then you can be a dreamer. Each event that is hosted, you surround yourself with the most incredible machines on earth, the most beautiful bodies, the most extreme engines and the ambiance of speed that one can ever have imagined!
This event is the annual production of Neil London, Tim Byrd, Thomas Clarke, and Gina Palmer and has been an incredible value to our local community, drawing crowds of well over 120,000 in attendance. On the last day of this sequence of events it closes with the largest SuperCar show in all of Florida and perhaps even the United States and includes an exclusive VIP party amidst it all.
The Sunday show boasts over 400 supercars – the most expensive and significant automobiles in the world ranging from makers such as: Ferrari, Audi, Maserati, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Bentley, BMW, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Land Rover, Bugatti, McLaren, Pagani and many more including new and classic American models. SuperCar Week focuses on sharing an exclusive experience with the public and an appreciation of automotive excellence, design and technology.
Now that we have the background of this amazing event presented, I can now tell you that someone who really stands out in this exclusive crowd is the one, Laurence Gartel, a world renowned American Artist and “pioneer of digital art” showcasing one of his elaborately designed Art Cars. I met Laurence a few years ago at a Lamborghini Palm Beach cars and coffee event. At first glance, you think “young Jerry Garcia” and he is every bit the most intriguing, down-to-earth, and most serious, passionate artist you will ever meet.
His extensive and ever-climbing career has spanned throughout decades having worked with Andy Warhol, Hans Grodo Frabel, and an eclectic mix of famous music artists including Blondie, The Sex Pistols, Kiss, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and many more.
“He was the official artist of the 57th Annual Grammy Awards”.
Gartel has exhibited in an extensive list of high-end museums including the Museum of Modern Art and other galleries that house his permanent collections for example, National Museum of American History.
Gartel is the first artist commissioned by Tesla Motors during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2010, after having dedicated many years to creating his stylistic graphically designed “Art Cars”. He has produced countless different Art Cars of many high-end makes including a Renntech Mercedes SL 65 V-12 Bi-turbo, which was unveiled at Fisher Island, FL during Art Basel Miami Beach, 2014 and being shown at ArtPalmBeach 2017.
On Sunday, Gartel agreed to answer my interview questions which are posted below. My questions are based on not only his experience with participating in SuperCar Week over the years, but also his experiences with inspiration and of being an artist. I appreciate the time he took in answering these questions and it is an absolute honor to be able to share this with the world.
Even as he prepared to answer these questions for me after that Sunday, he was participating in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on Monday in Downtown West Palm Beach:
“No moss grows under my feet as I participated in the Martin Luther King Parade in Miami. I was driving 4MPH for 4Hours. Talk about an “Endurance Rally.” However, I put a smile on over 300,000 faces. And that is a good thing. We must stop poverty in America. While we “oogle” over million dollar cars there are people starving every day. Children going hungry so my perspective in answering questions may be a little different than normal. Having said that, I will do so to the best of my ability.” -Laurence Gartel, January 16, 2017
Gartel Interview Q & A:
1.How many years have you participated in SuperCar Week?
I have been participating from the inception of the event. That means when Neil London took over because someone else had the show before Neil. Neil turned it into a FREE mega-event for everyone to enjoy.
2.What is your opinion on the outcome and progress of SuperCar Week 2017?
SuperCar has turned into the greatest event in all over South Florida. Fun, Friendly, Easy, Joyous, and something for everyone.
3.What additions would you like to see in the 2018 SuperCar Week?
I would like to see more dealers participating. One year Ferrari was in, one year they were out. I’d like to see new car dealerships roll out some of their latest vehicles. Schumacher has been in for several years. I think that’s great. Neil London tries to cover every aspect from Electric Vehicles to SuperCars. It would be nice if Mr. Dezer brought out some of his fine cars from his collection as well. The more the better because cars are a huge part of our modern and contemporary culture.
4.Whose work do you relate to most? Who or what inspires you?
When you are an original, I’m not sure who’s work you relate to. I can say, if you asked me whose work do I admire, I can say: Michelangelo, DaVinci, Correvaggio, Bernini. I have a real appreciation for “perfection.” I have been asked to leave the Ufizzi Museum on a number of occasions by security because I sat in front of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” for hours until closing time. I am obsessed with “ultimate beauty.” Seeing Bernini’s sculpture “Apollo and Daphne” in person, is a life changing experience.
5. Do you enjoy collaboration work?
On occasion. I did a collaboration last year with Hisachika Takahashi who was Robert Rauschenberg’s assistant for decades. I was up in Vermont where I was commissioned to create a 40th Anniversary work for Catamount Arts. Takahashi lived across the street and we had several talks about Bob. I had two exhibitions at Rauschenberg’s gallery at Edison College in Ft Myers. I knew Bob from the 70’s when he was working with Merce Cunningham. Takahashi remembered me as a young Artist so it was very moving to collaborate.
6. How has your practice changed over time?
My practice has always been in a state of transition. Materials change, and thus so does technique. Creating 3-D sculptures with 3-D printers along with drawing with plastic that melts is also a new development. In creating Art Cars the vinyl material has changed as well. Making it more pliable and flexible. As far as the Art is concerned – Art changes depending on one’s travels and how it emotionally impacts you.
7. Describe yourself in one word. Why that word?
FABULOUS. – Because everything I do is unsuspected. You will never know what I will do next. It is surprising and over the top. Nothing is ever predictable.
8. How is your personality reflected in your work?
My work IS my personality. Whether it be for the Grammy Awards or if it is for Forbes Magazine, Coca Cola, Mercedes Benz, or the Oslo Motor Show the Art is outrageous and has a live energy to it. “I am looking forward to waking people up, not putting them to sleep.”
9. How do you get inspired creatively with a new assignment?
My talent is G-D given. That means that there is a wealth of creativity attached to each project. Depending on what it is, the project itself “inspires”. For instance, if it is a car, the lines and shape of the car have a lot to do with how the overall outcome will be.
10. What do you dislike about the art world?
I dismiss the pre-determined Art world. Any great Artist of any century dismissed the rules and created his own visual language. If I were to bitch and moan about the Art world I would say I hate the Nepotism. It is everywhere. However, it is a BIG world and we can by-pass those that keep the doors closed to others outside of their inner circle.
11. Name something you love, and why?
LOVE? My significant other. My children.
12. What was it like designing for the Grammy’s? Was it a life changing experience?
It surely was a highlight. I enjoyed being part of the festivities, the red carpet, the show, all the protocol and everything associated with it in Los Angeles. My collectors shipped the Renntech Mercedes that I designed for them for me to drive during my stay there. It was a most generous and kind thing to do.
13. What is your dream project?
I have to think it up. Maybe painting a building. I’ve actually done everything I have wanted to do in life. ABSOLUT GARTEL for Absolut Vodka was a great triumph. To see my ad on the back of 100-million magazines was definitely a thrill. Especially when it was created with one of the first still-video cameras and Photoshop 2.0. Nobody ever saw anything like it before. Completely original. My cover of FORBES was amazing as well two years prior in 1989. My whole history is really interesting. Lots of firsts. Sometimes going backwards is just as exciting as going forward. Especially when that technology has come and gone and people have not seen it.
14. Where is your newest exhibition and what does it focus upon?
My new museum exhibition in Italy is very exciting: “WARHOL vs GARTEL” HYP POP opened in Spoleto 22nd December 2016 and will run through 2nd April 2017. The show examines the similarities between my work and Warhol. I taught Andy how to use the Amiga Computer in 1985 when he was commissioned to produce the album cover for Debbie Harry. After that I took Digital Art into the Fine Art World interjecting it into the stratosphere.
(Images of Warhol vs. Gartel courtesy of Laurence Gartel.)