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Gus's Pawn Shop from the series NIAGARA by Alec Soth

Alec Soth is a particular sort of wandering American storyteller, a lyrical documentarian. When people talk about his photographs, they bring up names like Robert Frank, like Flannery O'Connor, like Mark Twain, even.

Recently Soth was in Seattle, receiving an award from the Photographic Center Northwest and staying at the Sorrento Hotel on First Hill. I met him just after he arrived, and he was already a little out of sorts. He had lost his wallet. Then he found it, I don't know how, he left me in the lobby during that part, and when he came back we ordered Diet Cokes and went upstairs to sit down and talk. He didn't have a camera with him, or was it that he didn't really feel like shooting? He was crotchety and smart and evasive and funny and open all at the same time. Something about him was resistant to the interview process (in a good way), even though he talked plenty. I think you'll see what I mean. You'll also hear him reveal what he's working on, which involves hiding out. It also involves making art about the election process while trying like hell not to be political.

Also, he wholeheartedly agrees with Ed Schad's take on my take on nostalgia and sentimentality when it comes to art. (Me, too. Not my take, I mean, but Ed's take on my take.)