The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before. In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find. Please DO NOT send me your work. I do not take submissions.
Today’s featured artist: Matthew Brush
Fifty years ago, long boarding was sidewalk surfing, a faster, farther variation of skateboarding, and now it’s not. Over the past 20 years it’s evolved into something esoteric and fast like a medieval duel in the future. A future where post-apocalyptic nerd warriors in faded but colorful leathers, duct tape, aerodynamic helmets and two kinds of sneakers, race speed-boards downhill, over 50+ miles per hour, down jet-black spaghetti turnt roads in the magnificent golden wheat hills in Marysville WA. Just for some glory and cash and annual bragging rights.
Each year, hundreds of long boarders, and street lugers from around the world make their way to a remote hillside in Southwest Washington.
It’s the world cup Maryhill Festival of Speed – the largest gravity sports event in North America, which is held in a place most people have never heard of…. historic Maryhill Loops Road in Goldendale, Washington.
Maryhill Loops Road was the first asphalt road in the Pacific Northwest, constructed in the early 1900s by a man named Sam Hill, who was passionate about the Columbia River Gorge and building good roads. This private 3.5-mile road full of hairpin turns and switchbacks was created originally so he could teach his wife how to drive.
Today, the road is ideal for gravity sports because it’s closed to cars and the pavement is smooth and grippy, which allows racers to handle corners at high speeds. Not to mention, it’s now used for major auto and moto commercials.
For years, I was into skateboarding and had somehow always found myself shooting it, especially early on in my career. One of my good friends and OG longboard legend from Portland, OR, Robin McGuirk, had asked me if I’d be interested in coming out for the downhill weekend race. This was back in 2009. At the time, they were just 3 years into having these races. There hadn’t been much documentation of the event as of yet other than just some of the riders and their buddies shooting what they could. At the time, I think I was one of the first to really treat it as an actual sporting event yet make an attempt to create some fine art story from it. It was wild! You literally camp on a giant field like it’s a music festival with people from all over the world. They party like there’s no tomorrow yet manage to wake up and race! The first year I documented this race it was down pouring rain and terrible weather. My cameras got annihilated, but I didn’t care. I was in the thick of it, determined to come out with some amazing shots. For the 4 days I was there it was wet, cold, and well… you can imagine. Not a pleasant place to camp with equipment and try to be artistic. I still loved what I shot that year! Fast forward to 2013. The race is much bigger now and almost like a giant sponsored Red Bull type of event. This year was dry. This year the landscape looked a little different, and now there were more windmills on the property. I guess that’s how farmers make money these days. They lease out their land. None the less, I was back to shoot more colorful leathered characters flying down the hill. Of course, this time I also brought some help because I wanted to make a film about this event. https://matthewbrush.com/MOTION/2
As, I’m writing this, I’m really missing this place and would love to go back soon. They had cancelled it and almost permanently called it quits for a number of reasons, however, it came back and is still alive today. They usually run the race during Labor Day weekend. Over the years, I’ve sold prints from these series, and they’ve also gotten me jobs! Some people still comment on my downhill skate work. Sure, I’ve shot more of it, but I’ve also moved on to other photo projects that seem to pique my interest. For me it’s the curiosity of finding something during the process. Mary Hill definitely delivered! I’ll be going back again soon. I’m not sure what I’ll do, but I’m sure I’ll figure out a way to make it new again. To date it’s still one of my most favorite personal projects, and although it’s old to me, it’s still new to someone.
APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration advertising and in-house corporate industry for decades. After establishing the art-buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. Follow her at @SuzanneSease. Instagram