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Cactus Barbershop, Big Spring, Texas
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© Jim Dow
Gift of Nancy and Bruce Berman

Jim Dow
American, Big Spring, Texas, 1980
Chromogenic print
15 15/16 x 20 1/8 in.
98.XM.207.5

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Describing himself as a "butterfly collector in search of the perfect specimen," Jim Dow obsessively captures the built landscape with his camera. Here he views the meticulously decorated interior of a small-town Texas barbershop. In addition to the large mirrors necessary for the business, every inch of wall space is covered with landscapes and portraits seemingly created by one person. Handwritten scraps of paper with prices are tucked into frames; fluorescent lighting illuminates the scene. Nostalgic in its old-fashioned subject matter, this image is immediate in its familiarity, depicting a quintessentially American mainstay of community and locus of storytelling and gossip. Barbers' chairs face forward as if inviting the viewer to come in and sit. The precise detail in Dow's scene--made with a large format camera--heightens the seductive appeal of many pictures within a picture.