Michael Shankman

Region: Northeast

My recent paintings investigate cycles of migration, settlement, and foreclosure in the American West. The subject is personal to me; over the past twenty years I have seen massive changes in the landscape of my home state of Colorado. I have been exploring two conditions: 1800s homesteads and 1990s subdivisions. Along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, Gold Rush-era homesteads dot the land in slow decay, reminders of the glory and shortened promises around which this state was built. Nearby clusters of partially constructed, recently abandoned suburbs offer present-day detritus of hopeful migration.

For me, discarded architecture exists as more than a symbol of economic recession. These buildings are as beautiful and complex as the dreams that created them, and as saddening as the hardship of their failure. From the passage of the Homestead Act to the present day mortgage crisis, the dream of land ownership continues to define and defeat the West.