Southern Colorado | Always Watching Out For You

WHAT’S LEFT BEHIND: Finding beauty in decay

There’s a crew in Southeast Colorado that has made it THEIR goal to catalog the rust and decay, the items and structures of yesteryear, to make sure they don’t go unremembered.

Vincent Gearhart and Lex Nichols, who make up Colorado Abandoned, are artists; photographers of the old and nearly forgotten treasures of the past.

“I think there’s so much history that people will never know about, it’s just something that feels like an obligation almost to [catalog] this,” said Vincent.

The two have been friends for years, and they’re now business partners on this timeless project.

For this artistic endeavor, the two employ unique photography techniques. They expose each shot multiple times and manipulate the final product to bring out the color and beauty that lies in everything abandoned by the wayside.

They say they pursue the activity mostly for the sake of creating their art. However, they admit that they’re inspired by each of their past experiences.

Those experiences proved the importance of capturing images of things in flux. In this case, it meant their families.

For Lex, he lost his grandmother,  who helped to raise him and his brother.

“I do wish that I’d had more time with her,” he commented.

But someone took the time to take photos, capture memories, and those help him to reflect and remember his departed.

Vincent lost his daughter to a brain tumor when she was 15 years old. Soon afterward in 1998, floodwaters destroyed almost every photograph he had of her.

“I lost a lot of images, I have a few but not very many; not near enough, that’s for sure,” he said.

So now, Lex and Vincent both value and treasure the significance of photos, and they work to capture an ever-changing world with their lenses.

“For me, it’s preserving something, there’s so many time that I drive by something old and think it’s kind of cool, and then the next time you go by it’s gone,” said Lex.

Now, all that preservation, gigs on gigs of it, gets backed up, “Make a backup, do whatever it take to make a backup,” Vincent said avidly.

Both work to document so that future generations will know what’s left behind.

“It does become a passion to take some of these pictures and try to find as much beauty as we can in the decay and I think that’s the [part that’s the most fun]; just taking something that’s rusted and gone and turning it into a piece of art. That’s always a real fun thing to do,” finished Vincent.

If you’re interested in learning more about Colorado Abandoned, just click here.

Looking toward the future, Lex and Vincent have signed a book contract with Fonthill Media and will be featured in part of the America Through Time/Abandoned Union: series.

Aside from that, you can be pretty sure they’ll continue to snap, shoot, and capture photos of a world that’s quickly changing.

Jon McMichael

Jon McMichael

Jon McMichael is the digital reporter for KOAA. He's been with the station since October 2017.
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