For just over one million miles and eight years as a Professional Truck Driver and Fine Art Photographer, I’ve had the opportunity to visit most of North America. The Hennepin Canal is for me one of my special places. Thinking of The Hennepin Canal, I think of a place of Sanctuary. The Hennepin is a way point, for me while traversing across North America.Hennepin signifies an entrance into a predominately urban east from the predominantly rural west.
Hennepin is a last respite before transitioning from one mindset into another. When traveling east it’s a “last” best place to hike, bike, or run, before entering the hustle and bustle of the east coast. Returning west The Hennepin Canal symbolizes the first opportunity for me to catch my breath and begin to let my guard down.
The Hennepin Canal to me is a unique passageway in transition, paralleling yet another passageway known as Interstate 80, a newer, more modern, canal if you will.In time I-80 will become outdated, outliving its original purpose, just as Hennepin has.I often wonder if Interstate 80 will also find another purpose, a second life if you will, as The Hennepin Canal has.
100 years from now will Hennepin still be here? If so what will it be like, look like. My purpose in photographing the canal is not to document it, or even to photograph it as a beautiful snapshot. Instead, I strive to create an image of it, to capture the essence, the beauty, the personality of the canal. To create an image which speaks to the way I see it in my minds eye both literally and figuratively. I strive to portray the images and emotions I experience while at Hennepin.
In 2000 I discovered the Hennepin Canal quiet by accident, driving my big rig heading East over a slight overpass on I-80 that barely elevated the highway off the ground. I noticed an exit ramp just past this overpass and exited the highway. At the end of the exit ramp I noticed what looked like a river and a leveled path running along side it. This path is what started me believing there might be something more right below the overpass. Something akin to what I’d known in New Hope PA or Lambertville N.J. as a canal path rather than a river.
This was the beginning of my affair with The Hennepin Canal. Over the next eight years journeying from LA or NY I would stop repeatedly to take a break for a few hours or overnight. At first I would go for a run, then I started to take bike rides, and eventually I started to enjoy the simplicity of hiking the canal path.
At first I did not carry a camera with me, yet I always thought of Hennepin where I frequent it as a very photographic place. The light here is at times harsh, but at the right time very subtle and soft.
The Hennepin Canal is able to simultaneously reflect the sky’s brightness and clouds via the water in a way that complements the shadowy darkness projected by the foliage which stretches out over the water from the adjacent land running parallel to the water in the canal. This of course varies depending on the season or time of day or night. The most exciting time for me to attempt to capture the essence of The Hennepin Canal is in the winter with the water having a thin layer of ice, the path covered by a layer of snow, and finally the air being saturated with a slight layer of fog or ground cloud. Combing all these ingredients in early morning one is able to create for a few moments breathe taking images of The Canal.
This is what I think of and conjure up in my mind when I think of the Hennepin Canal and hope 100 years from now that others might still cherish it as I do so now.
An explanation of mxed media works:
Mixed media works originate as photographs which are outlined onto canvas and then scanned. Various media, oil, watercolor, colored pencil, charcoal, spray paint, etc are then added, photographed, again and scanned individualy. Then combined as layers in Photoshop. They are then displayed on this site in the mixed media gallery.