In October 2000, San Clemente High School photography students; their instructor, Dan McIntyre; and their chaperones traveled nine hours into the Sierras to Bodie Ghost Town. It's not clear how much the students learned about the town; one student said she thought Bodie "had something to do with gold? Or something?" But what the students don't know is less revealing than what they apparently saw. In Bodie's Angel, Cora Leigh Ryffel offers two perspectives on a headstone's angel, perched in the town's graveyard. From the front, the angel gleams white against a brilliant blue sky, guarding a clearly marked grave; from the back, the same sculpture tells an entirely different story, looking as if the angel is shielding its eyes in sorrow and fear as the town below is enveloped in ominous-looking fog.
Camryn Clair produced Glass Bottles, a photo that was intriguing not for its bottles, but for the iron, typewriter-like cash register next to them and the packet of panty hose they obscured, reading "Hole__ Hosiery, __ris Colors for __mart occasions."
Taken at what appears to be dusk, Rik Hendrix's untitled panorama depicts Bodie's brown and gray town lazily stretched across the mountain, its roads cut through and tickled by a pink-yellow sea of prairie grass, everything pegged in by a few twilight-colored clouds in the sky. This is how I remember Bodie: silent but still alive.
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"Ghosts of Bodie" at the House of Photographic Arts at the Forster Mansion, 27182 Ortega Hwy., San Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-5127. Through March 24. All images are available for purchase.