Eirik Johnson

Returning home from several years Boston, UW-trained photographer Eirik Johnson soon set out for the woods of Oregon. And for the north shore of Alaska. His intent for the images in Camps & Cabins was to document what he calls "cultural and environmental modes of improvisation." Or, put differently, shacks and lean-tos. In Oregon, predominantly Mexican and Southeast Asian mushroom pickers set up temporary camps among the pines. They're basically wood poles that sketch the shape of a house, then covered with tarps in season. When the pickers depart, the outlines remain, like architectural traces of a domicile that doesn't really exist. There's just the suggestion of a house whose residents provide the precious morels, matsukes, and chanterelles we eat in expensive organic restaurants. Up in Barrow, Alaska the cabins used for bird and seal hunting have to withstand more severe weather, since the wind blows right off the Beaufort Sea. These structures are bit more finished, with traces of family life outside: old tricycles, basketball hoops, even a skateboard ramp. But they're hardly domestic, just drab and functional when framed against the flat horizon. These homes are for leaving as much as for staying. Today Johnson will give a gallery talk on the show, which continues through May 26. BRIAN MILLER

Wednesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thu., May 3, 6-8 p.m.; Sat., May 19, 2 p.m. Starts: April 19. Continues through May 26, 2012

 
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