Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

May 7, 2018

BUTY-WAVE IS NOW CLOSED FOREVER, Photos by Wyatt Doyle (New Texture Books)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 3:47 pm


photos by WYATT DOYLE

(New Texture Books, published November 2017)

order a copy from

BUTY cover

Beautiful and breath-taking and thought-provoking accidental juxtapositions are to be found everywhere, including one’s own neighborhood. That haphazardly-constructed brick wall behind the janitorial supply store across the street, where I walk the dog, seasoned by age and the elements and vandals, when viewed with the eye with which one would view one of those three-dimensional 1990’s Melville-inspired artworks by Frank Stella becomes something infinitely fascinating….and something ever-becoming because of sun and shadow and atmosphere.

To me, if there’s a “message” to the work of a John Cage or an Andy Warhol (and I had the opportunity to tell Mr. Cage this personally when I was able to speak with him for about 20 minutes circa 1990 in Virginia), that’s it—-Take off the blinders, throw out routine and habit and looking past what’s there in front of you…open up all five senses , and the sixth sense of intuition, and treat each moment as if you are in some kind of immersive installation. Eventually, you will not have to consciously make that decision anymore–it will become a new norm for you.


The photography of Wyatt Doyle fulfills a similar function. You may (as I do) live in a neighborhood with boarded-up fast-food restaurants, three-quarters empty strip malls built during the heyday of the S&L scandal in the 1980’s, juvenile delinquent tagging of walls, and perpetually un-rented billboards full of weather-beaten signage from years ago which is pretty much unreadable and also making reference to events and phenomena long forgotten–but there is an austere and melancholy beauty there, aged like a quality bourbon, “distressed” like a $300 pair of jeans the boss-man’s daughter might buy on a whim.


Doyle’s eye and his camera’s eye  capture those moments of junk-store epiphany, of accidental revelation, which lurk un-noticed in the most taken-for-granted parts of everyday run-down America.

Every small business is the coming-into-reality of someone’s dreams, like a real-life Field Of Dreams, whether it’s breakfast tacos being sold, massages being offered, transmissions being repaired, or graduation photographs being taken. The failure of each business–and the majority of small businesses do not make it five years–is truly something tragic, in the Theodore Dreiser sense of the word, and Doyle’s photographs which incorporate the abandoned and the unprofitable once-new businesses which pepper the American environment somehow capture that energy and enthusiasm in their depiction of what the shells of those hopes and dreams have become. It’s a scalded and beaten-down beauty, but the beautiful core remains. Buty-Wave may be closed  forever (and that “forever” on the sign speaks volumes, doesn’t it?), but it radiates permanently now, grown from the soil of its original environment through the Doyle photograph.


When Doyle’s photographs include people (and there are portraits of such diverse characters as Reverend Raymond Branch, Carl Ballantine, Ray Bradbury, and Georgina Spelvin, although most of the book’s photographs feature environments without people), they somehow let down their guard for him and the portrait is both rich and spontaneous—-neither the studied faux-spontaneity of Richard Avedon’s portraits nor the self-consciously documentary eye of a Walker Evans (and I adore the work of both men), but something different and unique, something 100% Wyatt Doyle.


When Mary Anne and I travel through the small towns of the Midwest and the South, towns where half of the main street is abandoned and what’s left are payday-loan outfits, yoga studios, and on-their-last-legs local merchants not yet put out of business by Amazon and/or Wal-Mart, we often see scenes and images that remind us of Wyatt Doyle’s photography. He has helped us—-and his work can help YOU, dear reader–to acquire and use that EYE which puts everything into DEEP FOCUS.


Fifty years from now, people will be looking at these photographs as synecdoches of our age—-why wait!

Mr. Doyle is involved at any particular time in many projects, and you can read about some of them here:       His photography, his fiction, his editorial and publishing projects–whatever he’s involved with possesses the same unique, insightful, elegant, and 100% American qualities. This rich and haunting new book of photography is an excellent place to start in your exploration of the man’s work. It comes in an inexpensive paperback edition, and also for just a few dollars more a hardcover edition with 15 extra photographs….This book helps us find the permanent and the valuable in the temporary and the seemingly disposable. What more could one ask? Get your copy now….

BUTY cover

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