• Out of Season: The Vanishing Architecture of the Wildwoods
  • Out of Season: The Vanishing Architecture of the Wildwoods
  • Out of Season: The Vanishing Architecture of the Wildwoods
  • Out of Season: The Vanishing Architecture of the Wildwoods
Out of Season: The Vanishing Architecture of the Wildwoods
By Mark Havens Hardback, 226 pages, ISBN: 978 1 86154 378 3 June 2016

Photographs by Mark Havens
Essays by Joseph Giovannini and Jamer Hunt  

Out  of  Season:  The  Vanishing  Architecture  of  the  Wildwoods  is  a  book  of  extraordinary  colour photographs  by  Philadelphia-based  artist  Mark  Havens.  The  works  illustrate  the  artist’s  ten-year exploration of the architecturally evocative motels of Wildwood, a small barrier island located at the tip  of  southern New  Jersey. The  photographs  are  presented  in  a  linear  sequence,  from morning  to night, as if to echo the fading light of a once vibrant destination. 

Through a rare combination of economics, geography and chance, the island of Wildwood contains a national  treasure:  the  highest  concentration  of  mid-century modern  hospitality  architecture  in  the United  States. Accompanied  by  critical  essays  from  Joseph  Giovannini  and  Jamer  Hunt,  Havens’ 

photographs successfully capture the kitsch and nostalgic aesthetic of Wildwood’s unique, modernist architecture.  Built  in  the  late  1950s  and  early  1960s,  Wildwood’s  motels  were  developed  in anticipation of the arrival of the Garden State Parkway, a four-lane toll road that would ultimately run the length of New Jersey, bringing with it a flurry of tourists from the surrounding states.  

The  architecture  of  this popular  Jersey Shore  resort was heavily  influenced by  the modernist  styles that populated Florida at the time. Modelled on American middle-class ideals and architectural make-believe,  the  constructs  were  imbued  with  the  culture  of  the  moment:  space  travel,  cars,  nascent rock‘n roll, exotic Polynesian locale and neon signs spelling out names like Satellite, Astronaut, Bel Air, Kona Kai, and Waikiki. Unlike anything else on the Jersey Shore before them, ‘the motels of Wildwood transformed the socialist mission of European Modernism, built for the proletariat, into a vehicle of social fantasy.’

Until recently, a short 3-month tourist season combined with a working-class veneer meant that the motels remained immaculately preserved – frozen in time – for over four decades. Now, a substantial number of motels have been demolished and many that remain face an uncertain future.  

‘The visual quietude of Havens’ work invites us to linger a bit longer on elements [of the architecture] that we might otherwise have ignored. And their strong cinematic quality — their emptiness — never lets  us  forget  that  these  were  dreamscapes  for  millions  of  visitors.’  By  presenting  us  with  these striking images of motels that remain in Wildwood, alongside those that were photographed at the end of their last season, just before demolition, Out of Season celebrates the vanishing architecture of a bygone era.  

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