Central Park South 10 © Lissa Gotwals
Central Park South
February 16 through April 10, 2007
Downtown Durham’s aesthetic might
best be expressed by the idea of wabi-sabi; the Japanese
recognition of beauty in imperfection. There is beauty in impermanence,
as well. It is a kind of beauty that takes time to reveal itself,
but Durham’s cracks and flaws do give way to creativity,
diversity and respect.
This imperfect beauty is reflected in Foster Street, a physical
and metaphorical gateway to downtown Durham, running through the
middle of the newly coined “Central Park District.”
Originating at the edge of the historic Old North Durham neighborhood,
it feeds right into the heart of the city.
Foster Street is comfortably familiar to me. It takes me to the
YMCA, to my studio space, to my favorite movie theater. Over the
years that I’ve lived near downtown, I’ve become increasingly
attracted to the slowly changing, jumbled landscape of this particular
street and the surrounding area. But it was the mutual respect
between diverse members of this community that really drew me
in once I set out exploring with my camera.
The emergence of Durham Central Park has been slow but steady.
A school is flourishing. Beautifully renovated spaces have opened
their doors. Many low-rent artist studios and half-century old
businesses have managed to co-exist amid the growth. It seemed
that this pace of change could manage to maintain a balance between
preservation and development.
However, more changes have occurred than I ever imagined when
I began this project. Many of those old neighborhood businesses,
that seemed they would stand the test of time, are closing their
doors, the properties purchased by developers. Change is inevitable
and is, after all, an element of wabi-sabi. My hope, though, is
that innovation and history will coexist and the neighborhood’s
eccentric fabric will continue to weave itself through the streets
welcoming workers, artists, residents, and visitors of all ages,
backgrounds, and colors. This ongoing photo project is my personal
way of preserving moments and landscapes throughout the stages
of an ever-evolving downtown space—a snapshot of Durham’s
humility and harmony.
Durham, NC 2007