This autobiographical series is a tribute to my father (at right, in 1962), who ran a parking lot for most of his life. The images are of a sculptural glass model, based on his parking lot booth, which I photographed in various times of day and situations, including parking lots. The 16x20 color photographs are accompanied by the passage of text below. (A hardcover book with the photos and text is also available.)
My father was a very private person, although for most of his life he ran a public parking lot: 56 spaces on the corner of Locust and Grove, next to the County Jail and half a block from the Illinois Hotel. All day, six days a week, he sat on a stool inside a booth and through a side window punched tickets in and out. In winter, a space heater hummed with stale warmth. He was proud of the fact he was his own boss, and no one could tell him what to do or not do.
At the lot, he'd greet the salesmen and deputies and store managers by name with a big wave Hello. He knew everyone's car and saved their spots for them. They knew him from his years on City Hall committees and his letters to the editor against privatizing the city's electricity. Halfway through college, he had worked a year at the local paper, writing obituaries and selling ads.
My father was a very private person. Late at night, in his den, he'd scan the airwaves with a ham radio, marking cities he'd contacted with red pins on a map: Omaha, Shreveport, and when the cloud cover bounced the signals just right, Oslo or Stuttgart or even Tokyo. From the metal box with a lit-up dial came the crackle of faraway voices.