☼☼☼☼ ☼What is West Ends? ☼☼☼☼☼
West Ends is a newsletter about the American West, the sense memory of home, contemporary art including photography and works that don’t really fit in any traditional canon. It includes my research, observations, in-field reports, photographs, driving jams, bits from all the brilliant minds I get to interact with, and all the wacky trouble I get into while traveling to far-flung and abandoned places in efforts of writing a book about ghost towns. West Ends is folded not-so-neatly into three categories. Picture a trifold paper map shoved into a glove compartment and that’s more or less the vibe.
Research (we’re working on the name) ☼
Believe it or not, I am not the strongest reader so it takes me quite a bit of synthesizing before I have a grasp on a subject, especially something as tangled as oh I don’t know, the vast imperialistic history of the American West? Or trying to teach myself the finer points of photovoltaic energy and mirrors as they relate to contemporary art, learning land use, junk in general, and my thoughts on cowboys and Thelma & Louise, for example. Writing through these concepts (and looking at a LOT of photos) is how I get through it. My goal is to make complicated subjects accessible and enjoyable to read as much as they are informative and reflective. I’d also like to take the reader into the places I go and write from the gut and from my physical perspective so you can come too.
An embodied experience is paramount to my process. Dispatches are observations written and sent from the road. Getting a feel for a place is just as important to me as recorded history, facts, and all that. To investigate what art writer Lucy Lippard called “the lure of the local” one must be, well, local. I use dispatches as a diary and that’s why they’re behind a paywall (lol). Here’s one I wrote while hiding out in a vacant, rundown, 60’s era jackrabbit motel while they prepared for snowbird season, if that’s your type of thing (feelings, mostly). Here’s another about the first time I left the house after lockdown, it’s own type of ghost town. One more about living in an RV behind my friends’ tennis camp, listening to the soft thwack of tennis balls all morning, drivin’ to Bombay Beach to interview old dudes while thinkin’ about Nancy Holt’s early photographs.
Motel Chronicles ☼
I took a spontaneous road trip with an Iranian artist in fall of 2020, pre-vaccine and very much neck-deep in the terror of the pandemic’s earlier days. Our trip lasted six weeks and was an extremely strange but vibrant experience, one that changed my life. A fictionalized version is serialized in Motel Chronicles on a regular basis. With a subscription you can read the second half before it becomes something more substantial. Details on that TBD. In the meanwhile, check out Las Vegas Pt. 2, Williams, and Sedona (told in first-person perspective before I switched up styles, that happens!). The first half was longlisted for the First Pages Prize.
And every now and then
… a playlist, a field recording, an homage, and an errant story or two that was killed by the publication who commissioned it, like this book review on Chantal Akerman for The Believer from 2020.
Why subscribe to West Ends? ☼
I’m an award winning writer, storyteller, and experienced road reporter and traveler. I’m working on a book and I travel alone. Your $7 subscription not only supports my work, it also funds my ability to travel safely and pays for fixers (to help me report, translate, and stay safe) and gas. 🐎
You can read the archive to your heart’s content until you decide to subscribe. Or say hi on twitter or instagram. Other published work and my professional stuff can be found at heyangella.com.
Thanks for reading! And reach out anytime. X☼X☼