The third entry into my rust belt futurism series, this is probably the most carefully constructed. I did number of sketches beforehand, trying to get the angle right and my use of forced perspective was a journey of trial and error. I was surprised at all the math and angles I was happy to think through.
I’m not sure that these paintings are readily accessible, but I’m glad I did them. Once people hear that the buildings are all from this zip code, I think it clicks together a little more. I think of these paintings part way between a joke and thoughtful criticism. Where do we think the rust belt has gone in shows like Star Trek? Or even Bladerunner? The post apocalypse seems inevitably agrarian…where are areas like Braddock/N. Braddock?
It’s nice for me to picture the beat up buildings and landscape forming into a space going coalition. Like, the Ohringer stood up one day at family dinner and said to the library and the Orthodox Church “Hey, wouldn’t it show ’em all up if we launched ourselves into space?”
I think we wouldn’t know what to do if manufacturing came back to the United States. The trade offs of factories are real in an area like this, but a remote thought for almost everyone else. We’ve read (or heard of) the Jungle, and we know that Carnegie made a lot of money. Maybe it’s fun listening to Bruce Springsteen. The questions, though, of how to balance workers’ quality of life, environmental impact, and having profitable businesses are still very much in the air. They weren’t really settled, they just went somewhere else. It leaves my area somewhat unstuck from time.
One thing I don’t understand is why so few of the people from the area work at the factories. When did that change? I know we are part of the rust belt, but there are two enormous operational steel factories in the Mon Valley. The area has a declined but the steel has continued.
The Mon Valley is going into the future as it is. That’s what the space ships are about. It could be that some developer changes things dramatically, but I doubt that’s how things will play out. I hope that things improve, that more buildings get refurbished and people grow more interested in the area. Even if that happens, though, it seems like the look and identity of 15104, it’s out-of-timeness, is going to be here in 2030, 2050, 2070.
Hopefully by then people will have really learned how to make brick space ships. Smokestack Enterprise.