American Decadence (Codington Co., South Dakota), Oil on Canvas, 24 x 64 inches, 2011 (Nate Burbeck)


…abandoned shacks stand in dejected silence to give testimony of over-optimism and the unwise use of land. Here the legendary “wide open spaces” roll away as far as the eye can see. There is something about the vast expanse that appeals to strangers and holds the scattered inhabitants.

A South Dakota Guide (WPA, 1938)

In June 2011, a friend and I drove out to take pictures of some abandoned buildings in far Western Minnesota and South Dakota.  Shown here is an abandoned farmstead in a grass field in Codington County South Dakota, about 10 miles north of Watertown.  It was incredible to walk around in such a vast, open space, even if we had to trudge through knee high grass (and ticks, we later discovered).  After walking around and photographing the various buildings on site we went inside the main house.  Judging from how decayed and weathered these structures were we guess that they must have been abandoned for at least several decades, maybe longer.

The photos taken at this site worked perfectly for the painting idea I had at the time.  The final result of that work can be seen in the last image of this set:

American Decadence (Codington Co., South Dakota), Oil on Canvas, 24 x 64 inches, 2011

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Nate Burbeck is a State Guide to Minnesota and an At-Large Guide to the Midwest. he curates a few regionally-themed art tumblrs —beyond 9th avenue (Northeastern artists), fly over art (Midwestern artists) and in the new frontier (Western artists) and has himself been named one of “Ten Artists to Watch in 2013” on the Walker Art Center’s mnartists blog. Follow Nate’s work on Tumblr or on his website.