Through the Lens Darkly

Photog sees hope among the ruins

Wayne Michael Reich claims he once roamed the arid streets of downtown Phoenix for five hours before he saw a single living soul. Not so much as a cop car or homeless dude crossed his path. But Reich – a NYC transplant with designs on the Phoenix art scene – is not deterred by such deficiency of activity. "It's hip to blow Phoenix off, which I don't get," Reich says. "There's a lack of local pride despite the huge potential here." The photographer rails against the "NASCAR element" of First Fridays, and points out that people here don't so much look at architecture as blow by it with head down and eyes trained to see only strip malls and freeways.

Reich's photographs capture the desiccated beauty of Phoenix's built environment, and the buildings – some familiar, like the Luhrs Tower – that suddenly seem worthy of the attention. Reich says, "People come looking for meaning. And I want to say it's just architecture. But maybe the subtext is that I'm trying to show a city in a weird mode. We cannibalize our history as fast as we try to save it."

 
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