Charles Darr’s Portrait Series, What He’s Still Doing Here “Amongst the Flat-liners”
My first introduction to Charles Anthony Darr was hardly an introduction at all, but consisted of spotting him around my neighborhood, walking his dog and aiming a point and shoot at random objects. It wouldn’t be until many months later that I’d come across his work and appreciate his photographs. Until then, I only got the sense that he was doing something– something that amounted to more than just a leisurely walk.
When I spoke to him about his portrait series, he explained it to me in beautifully simple terms. It’s a series of people who do things, much like himself. The subjects are all artists of some medium and confront the perception that people “don’t do anything” or that “nothing happens here” in Tempe/Phoenix. Proving this perception wrong is one of the motivating goals for Phoenix Taco, so I’m glad to share this work from Charles, who like the figures in his series, “just keeps doing it, because that’s what artists do.”
“As an artist, you always have to return to your work. Everything else comes and goes. You can’t fully give yourself to anything else. It may seem selfish, but it’s not. Your work is bigger than you,” Jesse Rieser explained to me.
There seems to be a notion that the local creative scene only serves as a launchpad for artists. You either take off from here and make it elsewhere, or you crash and burn. As one of few local natives, I have witnessed this atone-less climate melt the wings from more than one Icarus.
“What are you still doing around here, Charles? Aren’t you getting kinda old?” some early-twenties, already-a-burnout asked me a while ago. My initial response was laughter. Where would I want to go? I am getting by financially with enough free time from work to hang out, have drinks with my friends, goof off, and enjoy this city’s surplus of beautiful women. “You wish I’d leave,” I thought, “must suck watching me live your dream.” This interaction crossed my mind a couple days later and struck me in a much less humorous way. What the hell am I doing living a twenty-something burnout’s dream? Have I given up faith that I’m here to do more? Have I fallen so far that I’m now resonating with the flat-liners? What has taken over my dreams?
On the other hand, a slight shift in perspective made me realize what a beneficial circumstance I find myself in. Yep. I’m still here. But I’m still doing it, and I’m not the only one. Being born and raised in Maryvale and only making it as far away as Tempe, I have spent my whole life in the Phoenix area, and I’ve made lots of connections. My life has been blessed with genuinely interesting and gifted people. What a great opportunity I have to photograph these individuals who are here in the Valley, amongst the flat-liners, in the hellacious heat that is unforgiving of wax wings, and who don’t care. They just keep doing it, because that’s what artists do.
Charles Anthony Darr
You can view more from Charles at his blog here