Stepping stone for Alonzo Horton project
By Scott Bellile
An Illinois photographer’s new project is designed to introduce Americans to the lifestyle of the Midwestern village of Hortonville.
Nathan Pearce of Fairfield, Illinois, created “Welcome to Hortonville” project during his residency at the Standard Projects art studio in downtown Hortonville in summer 2014.
Standard Projects, 111 S. Nash St., will debut a compilation of his photos at a gallery opening event on Friday, Feb. 19, at 6 p.m. He’ll also be on hand to talk about his work and sell small photo books.
Following its opening, the gallery will run Feb. 19 through March 11. It will be open for viewing at Standard Projects on Thursdays from 12-6 p.m., Fridays 12-6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Pearce applied for the Standard Projects residency program because he said he wanted to relax for a week in a small rural town and escape his day-to-day work pressures.
“There’s a bit more stress when you’re at home trying to make work,” Pearce said. “So being able to take some time away in a small town I didn’t really have connections with … I didn’t have to check into work. I could just make photographs.”
Pearce said his aimed to capture the feel of a small Midwestern town through a mixture of scenic photography and portraits.
Standard Projects owner Claire Abitz said although she hasn’t seen Pearce’s finished product yet, what she saw during his visit was like flipping through a nostalgic, black and white scrapbook of her hometown.
Pearce was curious about the area and the history, she said, and although he’s a bit shy in nature, his curiosity drove him to introduce himself to locals and ask questions.
History became a bigger part than Pearce envisioned. He now wants to complete a bigger project about Hortonville founder Alonzo Horton.
Real estate developer Horton founded the village in 1848 before journeying out West to take part in the California Gold Rush.
Once in California, Horton decided to create a 960-acre addition to the small but growing town of San Diego. It became a downtown business hub and helped expand San Diego to the 1.3 million-person city it is today.
Pearce wants to head out West as early as this spring and document the architecture of San Diego. He’d then make a compare-and-contrast project with the architecture of Hortonville with the hope that it seems “as if I photographed one town.”
Pearce at one time lived in San Diego but didn’t realize the connection between it and Hortonville until his residency here. Although he did take photos out West, he said his artistry has gotten better since then so he wants to try again.
“It would have been handy to be able to know about the connect[ion] when I was there, but the photos wouldn’t have been good at the time,” Pearce said.
He aspires to publish a photography book of the project and maybe enlist a writer to create a short story around the finished product.