Artist: Joe Jankovsky
Medium: Photographic Print
At Fifth and Van Buren streets in Phoenix you can visit a memorial to the St. Mary's Elementary School. If you ever go, take a moment to stand in front of the historic Archway and try to imagine what, when built, was the largest meeting hall west of the Mississippi.
Also try to imagine hand-painted Spanish Colonial Revival scroll and inlay work on creatively-engineered structural beams. This is a photograph of how it looked, but this view was covered up by a hideous office drop ceiling for over two decades; you can see the vertical lines of support wire in this photograph and the offending ceiling at the bottom of the image. The balcony of this space was at one time needed by the school and was thus walled up to make room for larger classes.
When I made these images, the forces were already in set motion for its destruction.
In such instances we should always take time to practice the art historian's tool of "restoration" before acting out. Subtract nonsensical additions with your imagination-- or literally, preferably before any major decisions are made--imagine it in pristine condition.
This is the photograph that took a hammer to make since I had to knock a hole in a wall to get this covered-up-for-decades view of the St. Mary's Elementary School auditorium ceiling. Photographs almost always outlast buildings here in Phoenix and sometimes photographing them requires a hammer. For this Imagine Phoenix series I'd like to envisage Phoenix historical architecture left alone or restored.
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Have a suggestion for a Phoenix icon by a local creative? Leave it in the comments section or email Claire.Lawton@newtimes.com