Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mentor photographer finds beauty in the abandoned

Photographer Johnny Joo has an affinity for abandoned buildings—the kind with tree branches intruding into windows, moss growing on the floor, shattered glass on the stairwell, rust on the fire escapes and a degree of dilapidation that requires decades of neglect.

Joo has photographed abandoned Masonic temples, Byzantine and Baptist churches, vaudeville theaters, hospitals, schools, diners and homes.

Now he has gleaned his collection—which consists of thousands of photos from hundreds of places—for a special display at Mentor Public Library's Main Branch. The photos will be exhibited until December 31.

The display includes shots from the Newburgh Masonic Temple, the Paramount Theatre in Youngstown, Larimer Elementary in Pittsburgh, Detroit Hope Hospital, St. Joseph Byzantine Church in Cleveland, Fanny’s Diner and more.

All of the locations used to be landmarks—destinations that were part of thousands of people’s daily lives—but now they house insects, pigeons, rodents and memories.

“You can find people’s past there—things people forgot about,” Joo said of his subjects. “People just look past it.”

Joo also enjoys taking pictures of the quiet of undisturbed nature. He likes finding and photographing secluded caves and waterfalls.

Joo’s work has been featured in The News-Herald and Cleveland Scene. He was also a finalist in a National Geographic photography contest.

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