JL Gardner Photography & Woodworking
JL Gardner (Jeff) has traveled around this country his whole life, seeking the less known paths, the "blue highways" as they are sometimes called. He has ventured down many roads on foot, bicycle, behind the wheel of an eighteen-wheeler and in the back seat of a Greyhound bus. Somehow, he has always been drawn back to the Northeast and these days, the hills surrounding the Saratoga Revolutionary Battlefield in particular. Jeff has found great comfort in these historic and supine hills, from the Vermont border to the Adirondack Mountains, to the banks of the Mohawk River. This landscape, which includes boundless rolling meadows, legacy farms with their venerable old barns in various states of disrepair, which has caught his eye and camera lens, more than anything else. These old structures are a remarkable aspect of an age of lasting construction and a bygone culture, that to this day, stubbornly remain standing despite (in some cases) dozens of generations of deep freezes, heavy burdens of extreme winter snow, boiling summers, and relentless winds and rain. Clearly, there is still a deep emotional connection to these places by those who own some of these remaining relics, and of those passers-by, like Jeff Gardner.
Jeff is a self-taught artist who started photographing these barns in different settings and conditions of disrepair, when he first moved back to the east coast from California in the early 1990's. As a hobbyist, crafter and all-around handyman, he has also become deeply interested in the "nuts and bolt" of these beautiful old buildings which, though designed as practical storage units, seemed almost holy somehow; evocative of a kind of innocent and unsullied spirituality (some were even called "tithe barns" used for storing contributions to the church). Even the tools used to make them seemed like sacred instruments: the broad axe, and the framing hatchet, the maul and mortise, the auger and the adze. "I increasingly felt like I needed something more personal and tactile than photographs with the very same wood they were made of "I hit on the formula I use today to construct high-quality, sturdy, practical works of art, using wood that might be 200 years old to try and evoke and preserve an important, quickly vanishing piece of America." Even though we are a relatively young nation (there are pubs in Germany that have been in operation since the 6th century AD), it is our rustic old "ruins" that help tell our story. The great American artist John Ruskin wrote, "antiquity is no dream; it is rather the children playing about the old stones that are the dream."
Jeff went on to capture images of old rusted, relic trucks and automobiles in the same capacity, as they slowly melted away back into the landscape. And he began tinkering in his wood shop to create small furniture, coffee grinders, crock benches, birdhouses and all other kinds of similar woodcraft items, some made from the same old barn-board material-all of which emanates an authentic rustic/Americana flavor. He has exhibited and sold these unique pieces of art in stores, at arts and crafts shows, and galleries all over western New England, Upstate New York, and eve in New York City. Jeff's photos and handy work, whether of New England, Upstate New York the Mountain Midwest, the Sierra Nevada's, or the Pacific Ocean, can be found on his website: www.jlgardnerphotography.com. Visit Jeff's website and take a peek into that world-into his America - a world that is far less complex and much more serene than what you may know of today!