Man to photograph Boonvilles across U.S.

Monday, August 13, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:10 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

BOONVILLE — For the next four weeks Boonville locals may see a young man sitting at the Fredrick Hotel typing on his computer or walking, biking or driving around the city’s streets with a camera in hand.

The photographer and rural Indiana native Tim Briner, currently of Buffalo, N.Y., will begin a six month journey across the U.S. studying small towns in America.

With a vast amount of small towns in Missouri — let alone the country — Briner decided to visit all six U.S. Boonvilles for his project. Briner’s first stop on his “Boonville USA: The Death and Life of America’s Small Town” journey will begin here in Boonville, Mo.

“Each of the six Boonvilles vary in size, history and geography, which offers a window into where we’ve been as a country, and where we’re headed,” Briner said. He said Boonville, Mo., is the largest of the six Boonvilles.

Briner, along with Cannery Works, a catalyst for the arts that offers support to new artists in all media, will be funding the project.

To help with the costs, Briner will stay with Boonville residents from all six towns.

After his four-week stay here, Briner will travel to Boonvilles in North Carolina, New York, Indiana, California and Texas, taking a month off here and there for a vacation.

“I’m using these six unique towns and their common name to create a metaphor of all small towns across the country,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the day when all the photographs have been arranged to create a larger, almost mythic Boonville.

“Much of small-town America is drastically changing,” said Briner. “There’s been population booms and a rise of corporate development over the last 25 years. Some towns are benefiting from this, others are slowly dying. Some call it progress. I think the heart and soul of America is undergoing a significant evolution.”

Briner, 26, who started working on the project three years ago, got the idea for the project while he was visiting Boonville, N.Y., population 2,138. The book, which is not yet titled, will be about 90 pages thick, possibly cloth bound, and will include essays from various writers discussing America’s ever-changing small towns.

To follow Briner on his Boonville travels, go to his Web site to read his public journal.

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