Myths and reality, signs and omens, truths and lies, permanence and passage:  visual reports and stories from the American West.  

Click an image to scroll through larger pictures.
 

Myth of the West.

Photographed in 1980 in Venice Beach, California.

"The Fall of Icarus" was painted by artist John Wehrle in the late '70s, on a wall facing the ocean in Venice Beach. I found that it brilliantly encapsulated the American mythology of the West, of manifest destiny, entitlement, exploitation, ambition and folly.

The mural has been tagged, graffitied and overpainted out of existence, which to me represents an appropriate footnote to the American dream.
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Small Hope, Desert Aire, Washington
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Winnemucca, 2005.
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Roundup, Soap Lake, Washington

Mural by Wm. J Barth
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Tye Moore's Place, Wyoming
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Volchek's Workshop, Grand Coulee, Washington, 2006

In 1995, an iinventor from Grand Coulee named Volcheck drove across the country and back in a vehicle modified to run on a special gas he had invented, following a clue from Leonardo da Vinci. The trip consumed $10 worth of his wonder fuel. After word got out, he was invited back to Washington DC to meet with important government people. While he was in D.C., federal agents raided his workshop in Grand Coulee and destroyed or confiscated his plans and components. He was subsequently convinced by government agents to forego any such projects in the future.

Anyway, that's the story the locals told me, and that's how it is told on the internet.
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
At the End of Hanging Woman Road, Wyoming
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Antelope Coulee Ranch, Montana
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Mora, New Mexico
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Left Field, Seneca Oregon. 2009.

In February, with blowing snow obscuring the horizon, a bear in cleats surveys a snowed-in ballfield.  Seneca lies at the extreme northwest corner of the Great Basin. The bear faces southeast, away from the Cascades and toward the desert basins of southeast Oregon and Nevada.

I can construct a geographical fantasy in which the fence is the hydrological divide: the snow melt to the west beyond the fence will find its way to the Columbia River and the Pacific, while water from the snow in the ballfield will flow eastward to evaporate in the shallow lakes and alkali pans of the Great Basin Desert.

This fantasy, too precise by far, helps me to understand the physical geography as well as the human defining and re-shaping of it.
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Butte
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Wiley City, Washington
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
American Idol, in the Bakken, North Dakota, 2006.
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Rocky Mountain Bandshell, Great Falls
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Magdalena, New Mexico
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
The Story of Verona, Montana
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
The Story of Verona (Detail)
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
All the Local Brands, Alpine, Texas
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
North Palm Springs, California
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Custer Died for Your Sins.
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Mojave Media, California
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Newcastle, Wyoming
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Roundup, Montana
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Miners' Entertainment, Republic, Washington.

This is a thick rectangle of concrete, erected in front of a natural wall of well-columned basalt. Republic is in mining country. As a part of the town's summer festival, miners compete with their jack drills by drilling holes in the concrete (and a few in the basalt as well). Similar objects can be found in other mining communities around the west.
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
John Wayne in Monument Valley
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
ZX Ranch, Paisley, Oregon

The ZX, owned by J R Simplot Co., was once and likely still is the largest working cattle ranch in the US.
Photographs by John A Kane Sagebrush Stories
Derelict Ranch, Wind River Reservation, Wyoming