Monday, February 10, 2014

The "Urbex" "Rurex" Thing

Gritty Old Sofa in The Baker Hotel

"What is urbex?"

Urban exploration (often shortened as urbex or UE) is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins or not usually seen components of the man-made environment. Photography and historical interest/documentation are heavily featured in the hobby and, although it may sometimes involve trespassing onto private property, this is not always the case and is of innocent intention. ~Wikipedia

The question I am most often asked is this. "Why do you like taking pictures of falling down buildings?"

My fascination began when I was a little girl and my grandmother would babysit me while my Mom was at work. We would tire of being cooped up in the little upstairs apartment and often we would go exploring in the little field next to the apartments where I lived. In that field was a creepy old falling down house and a scary little pond with an island in the center that was surround by thick vegetation. We didn't go near the pond much, it was a rather snakey destination, but for some reason my grandmother seemed as intrigued by the old house and it's contents as I was. 

Some days we would venture down into a basement type room that had cement floors and an old scary wheelchair inside, like OLD, the super old scary kind. Like the one below. 
I don't remember much about the floor level. A few steps up into a room that may or may not have had an old fireplace in it. I cannot see it in my minds eye. But when we went down into that basement, I would get those butterflies in my stomach from fear and excitement and the wonder of old things just being left behind. My Mother would tell us we shouldn't go messing around over there, but the minute she was gone, off we would go through the thigh high weeds back to that grove of trees where that old house sat.

So I guess maybe it started way back then. I remember in junior high and high school various friends and I going into abandoned homes and just looking around. It was never really "breaking in" as there was always a window or door unlocked just begging us to enter. Always the butterflies came, the fear of getting caught and the exhilaration of just being there. And of course, the wonder and speculation about the previous owners. Who were they, where were they now? Why did they leave it all behind?

This abandoned church in Bomarton, Tx. is not really abandoned in the way we generally think of abandoned. A group maintains it and keeps it nice but it is always unlocked and never used. 

Aside from wondering about past inhabitants of the places I explore, I honestly just see beauty in the places you normal folks see a "run down falling down old shack". I love broken windows and peeling paint. I love wooden floors that are so worn you can see the dirt beneath. I love to take pieces of ratty furniture like the couch above and see if I can make it a photo that even someone who doesn't care a whit about urbex would find pleasant to look at. And I like going back in time to whenever the last persons were there. Sometimes you can tell a few things by the paint or the furnishings or even newspapers and pictures left behind. 

Combine all of those things with the fact that I live in an area of North Texas which yields very little in the way of traditional beautiful landscapes except for once or twice a year when we have bluebonnets and blooming things and you have yet another reason for photographing the things I do. Convenience. The old run down shacks will be there til they fall down. They are not going to look prettier with time. There is no hurry to snap them while they are still glorious. The decay of them makes them appealing to me. Crusty old relics of cars in pastures, rotting barely standing barns. These are the things that I love. 

Rurex : The rural counterpart of urban exploration which consists of exploring abandoned rural structures such as houses, "ghost towns", etc

The Baker Suite was where the owner of the hotel lived. It was also where he was found unconscious from a heart attack. I am not sure if he died there but he was pronounced at a local hospital. 
The interior of the suite is still beautiful despite the decay the years have brought. There is now a renovation plan in place for the Baker Hotel and possible reopening as early as 2017. 

To sum it all up, I love urbex, rurex type of photo shoots. When my friend and I recently went to the Baker Hotel, we had to crawl in through a tiny basement window and go through the bowels of the giant to get to where sunlight flooded in through boarded windows. We both had butterflies the whole time we were there. At least I know I did. 

Click here to see my Baker Hotel shots. 

And to quote Forrest Gump..."that's all I have to say about that..."

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