This article was originally published on Deon Reynolds’ blog and is republished here with permission.
Prior to our move to Eureka, Nevada in 2005, Trish and I were both working in Portland, Oregon. Trish was a print ad producer and I was a photographer’s assistant. Being freelance allowed us to work on our own personal projects between gigs. 9/11 changed commercial photography forever and the advent of digital imaging created such a paradigm shift to the industry, we decided it was time to give the snow globe a good shake!
We were no stranger to the Nevada desert, for almost a decade we had been exploring and photographing remote areas, as well as Nevada destinations for calendars and a pair of coffee table books, NEVADA and Las Vegas: Portrait of a City, published by Graphic Arts Center.
Release of our NEVADA book generated good print sales, plus other art opportunities started to unfold in Nevada. We didn’t want to live in a city, so we concentrated on rural areas for a place to live. Eureka seemed to be the ticket. It’s a small remote community high in the mountains of the Great Basin Desert, along US-50, the Loneliest Road in America. It’s also just east of the geographic center of the state, opening up photographic opportunities in any direction.
Adventure is what we wanted and adventure is what we got! We’d usually embark on a photographic day trip or multi day expedition most weeks. We found ourselves very busy, creating more than we ever had. So many images in fact, we still have not fully realized the extent of what had been created while living there.
Eureka itself is an interesting community. It was once home to 10,000 inhabitants, plus the nearby communities of Ruby Hill and Prospect each had 7,000 people living there. Today, Ruby Hill and Prospect are true ghost towns and Eureka has about 600 people living there. These communities provided a treasure trove of empty structures in various stages of decay, irresistible subject matter for me.
Trish and I usually meandered our way around Eureka on a daily basis. We had several routes we would take giving us a three to five-mile walk. On these walks, I would almost always have a camera in hand.
We departed Eureka in 2018 mostly due to political intolerance. It took five years to sell our home/studio, an 1880 bank building complete with a functioning walk-in vault. During the last few years of living in Eureka, we lived in fear of our lives due to death threats from far right residents. Keep in mind, 98% of Eureka County voters in the 2016 election voted for he who cannot be named.
Death threats notwithstanding, we had a fabulous time living there, wandering the Great Basin Desert with an infectious creative spirit. The Basin and Range landscape of the Great Basin Desert is an austere place that I find inspiring photographically. Ranching and mining pretty much sum up what the few inhabitants do for a living. The current and legacy operations were a favorite subject matter along with the amazing landscape.
Deon was born and raised in Portland, Oregon in an art-intensive environment. His father, Robert Reynolds, a graphic designer, painter, print-maker, and illustrator, also taught life drawing and design at the Portland Art Museum.
Early in his professional career, between freelance assistant gigs, Deon began a personal project to document the Great Basin. This body of work led to two books published by Graphic Arts Publishing Company, (NEVADA, and Las Vegas: Portrait of a City).
The photographer Trish Reynolds and Deon substituted urban life in Portland in 2001 for the remote ranching and mining community of Eureka, Nevada, high in the mountains of the Great Basin Desert. For close to two decades, they explored and documented the area, a region where distances are vast and the roads can be difficult to non-existent.
In 2016, The Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art acquired a forty-two image portfolio, Harnessing the Wind.
Trish and Deon were commissioned by the Western Folklife Center in 2016 to create large scale, photographic wheat paste murals articulating a sense of place, for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering using ArtPlace America grant funds. Inspired by these murals, the Carson City Cultural Commission charged us to create a large-scale installation funded in part by a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grant.
In 2018, they began traveling around the Southwest looking for the next place to call home, taking in thirty-seven states and four Canadian provinces traveling the backroads and byways of North America photographing for a few special clients. After 40 months, exactly 1,200 days, of living in a van, they found a bit of acreage with a small house, studio and garden in Bosquecito, New Mexico. Visit Deon’s website here.
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