INCOGNITA: the art of getting lost

By Ben Olson
Reader Staff

If  Woods Wheatcroft tells you to get lost, you should take it as sound advice.

The Sandpoint photographer and curator of Studio 524 art gallery inside Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters is presenting a show of photographs celebrating the art of getting lost. Wheatcroft has titled the exhibition “Incognita,” which takes place Friday, Feb. 16, at 5:30 p.m. at Evans Brothers.

One of the two dozen images featured in INCOGNITA.

The inspiration for the show came from the many road trips Wheatcroft has taken, many passing through desolate areas devoid of the ubiquitous clutch of technology.

“I wanted to make a statement, or more of a commentary on terra incognita, or the land of the lesser known,” said Wheatcroft. “These photographs were gathered from my road trips in the west.”

Wheatcroft’s photos share a similar thread of minimalism. One shows an empty basketball hoop in the middle of nowhere. Others show stark, almost drab skies atop a clean horizon of empty space. There are signs without words, views without vistas and empty, naked human forms standing somewhere in oblivion. All photos share Wheatcroft’s iconic commentary that aims not to preach, but to lead by example.

“I want this exhibit to be a headscratcher, for me included,” he said “When one chooses to show work that claims the artist has it all figured out, it doesn’t work. I don’t have this figured out, I just choose to experiment.”

For Wheatcroft, the exhibit is a way for him to ask important questions.

“We’re so addicted to the answers right now,” he said. “We can’t reside with the questions. Think about it, you Yelp the restaurant you want to go to, figure out the route, read reviews of the food. We need to give ourselves a perscription to get lost every once in awhile is what I think.”

Wheatcroft, who works for a variety of clients as a commercial photographer, said he has gathered the two dozen photographs he’ll show over the past decade on his many trips to nowhere.

Two feet on dry, cracked earth in Eastern Oregon desert.

“I guess I’m presenting it as these are my tools to get lost: my van, a dirt road, a bottle of tequila and a lot of time,” he said. “Those are my tools.”

Check out Wheatcroft’s show “Incognita” at Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters on Friday, Feb. 16, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The show will be followed by a Chinese New Year party hosted by Evans Brothers as a fundraiser for Underground Kindness. Partygoers are encouraged to dress in festive red and gold and be ready to dance with DJ Mercury spinning. There is a $5 suggested donation at the door.

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