One of the wonderful things about living in Austin is the opportunity for independent forces to come together and provide an arena for culturally rich events.
On Friday, October 24, East Austin bookstore Farewell Books plays host to two such forces with the premiere of MOTOR CHRONICLES, an exhibit from Austin-based photographers Bryan Schutmaat and Matthew Genitempo. Both Schutmaat and Genitempo showcase the brilliance and beauty of the American West, bringing a level of romanticism to an area sometimes considered mundane.
“The show is made up of documentary-style photographs taken along the sparsely-inhabited roadways of the American West, a seemingly endless place,” explains photographer Bryan Schutmaat.
Schutmaat has long had a deep connection with the Western U.S., and has based his last two series in the region. His 2010 series, Western Freeze, catapulted Schutmaat to indie fame, while his most recent award-winning body of work, Grays the Mountain Sends, solidified his place as a rising star in the art world. This summer, Schutmaat was asked to contribute to the Smithsonian’s Instagram account as he traveled up the Oregon coast.
His work has been described as “post-documentary” or “new docugraphic," — both labels that Schutmaat's okay with. “My photos come from the world I see and how I respond to it, so the places and people in the work is the main inspiration. [My work is about] just hinting at their stories and communicating some kind of emotion,” says Schutmaat. “I'm mostly inspired by cinema and literature, though I of course look at a ton of photography and paintings and so on."
Like Schutmaat, Genitempo’s photographs also center heavily around the American West. His work has received a cult-like following on social media sites such as Flickr and Instagram, and he has been published both in the U.S. and internationally. In addition to his success as a photographer, Genitempo is also a member of Public School, a savvy collective made up of several well-known local designers and artists. “I would like to think that we all mutually encourage each other,” says Genitempo. “It is really nice to share space with such exceptional guys.”
The idea for MOTOR CHRONICLES came to Schutmaat and Genitempo a few years ago thanks to a little booze and a lot of passion. “We drink beer and shoot shit all the time and at some point this idea came up,” explains Schutmaat. “We have a passion for similar subject matter and showing our work together just made sense. But it took awhile to materialize since we were both busy all the time. Finally we decided to make it happen with the help of Mikaylah [Bowman] and Travis [Kent] at Farewell.”
The independent bookstore agreed to host the exhibition and set a ballpark date so the two photographers could begin working towards a deadline. Along with their large format cameras and many packs of 4x5 film, Schutmaat and Genitempo set out on the open road, independent of one another, living out of their cars, camping or staying in cheap motels. This Friday, their vision will come to fruition, with 11 images of various sizes hanging along the walls of the Farewell Books gallery.
“The show is made up of documentary-style photographs taken along the sparsely inhabited roadways of the American West, a seemingly endless place where Matthew and I travel often,” explains Schutmaat. “I stole the title from Sam Shepard and Wim Wenders in a way. Wenders talked about Shepard's Motel Chronicles, which was the basis for Paris, Texas. Maybe it was his German accent throwing me off, but somehow I mistook it as "motor chronicles" — a great title that evokes stories from the road.”
MOTOR CHRONICLES opens on Friday, October 24 with an opening reception from 7-9 pm at Farewell Books and runs until November 24. Admission is free.