Green Lake, Seattle, is my neighborhood, my home, and the epicenter of my photographic world. I live five short blocks from Green Lake Park, which is the mostly widely used urban public park in the Pacific Northwest, often used by thousands of people daily. The park possesses its own structure and rhythms. The two concentric lanes, the pedestrian lane and the cyclist/skater lane, remain, mostly, distinct. Picnickers relax on the grassy slopes, and paddle-boaters head off from the boathouse in search of a few reflective moments away from the bustle on the shore. There are throngs of children at day camps, political rallies, religious song-circles, crew races, family picnics, and bustling athletic playfields. Seattle is now ethnically diverse, and one can hear at least five languages spoken in the course of one pedestrian circumnavigation of the lake.
Since 1993, I have spent innumerable hours wandering the neighborhood sidewalks and the three mile path around the lake with my camera in hand, creating unplanned photographic portraits of a very few people whom I encounter. My photographic subjects are “found” in the most familiar locations: under trees, on sidewalks, and in front of their homes.
This project does not endeavor to portray a totalistic sense of Green Lake, the park or the neighborhood. There is scant evidence of the crowds that are often just outside of the range of my camera lens. In fact, I position my subjects in a way that momentarily sequesters them from much of the visual cacophony. Rather, this project reflects my personal vision of this very public place, and, hopefully, the project reveals something about the depth of character of the people who frequent it, a depth that has sustained me in numerous ways over many years.
I have come to know the lake and its surrounds quite well, and I am interested in observing the unfamiliar found within the quotidian. Were I a tourist visiting Green Lake, my eye would be inundated by novelty, thus obscuring the particulars of what is subtle and nuanced. My familiarity with Green Lake provides the ease and comfort to have no set agenda on my walks, remaining open to the chance meeting, the fresh encounter.
Gary Grenell - 2012
Green Lake, Seattle