Portfolio: Barney Taxel, Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland

From the Photographer:

I began to seriously consider a project about Lake View Cemetery shortly after I finished my book about Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens (Akron, Ohio), in 1999. Within walking distance of where I live in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and rich in manmade and natural beauty, the cemetery was an appealing place to turn my gaze, literally and figuratively, and focus my personal interest in the art of photography. The more time I spent there over the next few years convinced me that it was fitting subject for an in depth and ongoing photographic study.

I find Lake View to be an endlessly evocative and fertile area of exploration. Every season and time of day is visually rich and it was a surprise to realize that its essence is a celebration of life, change and renewal, quite different from the usual associations people have with cemeteries. Working there has a constant process of discovery that leads me to new vistas, both of the landscape itself and my own inner world. This collection of images, excerpted from The Lake View Cemetery: Photographs From Cleveland’s Historic Landmark, are a meditation on what I see and the fundamental questions of who am I and what is the purpose of life.

In this series I have embraced the essential elements that define Lake View— the sense of history, art and architecture, horticulture, topography, and the presence of the living and the dead. The collection is a deeply personal interpretation of my experience and the topics that interest me: craftsmanship, light, metaphor and abstraction, scale, geometry, space and time, color, texture and design, and ultimately how we are fed by new impressions of ourselves in the world around us.

I have tried to honor the planners, the minds and hands that created the gravestones and monuments and the feelings of the families that commissioned them, and  the labors of all the men and women who have made Lake View a magnificent arboretum and sanctuary.

After more than a decade spent wandering these acres I am not done photographing Lake View and I don’t think I ever will be. It has been proven to me over and over that this place devoted to the end of life is full possibilities and new beginnings.♦

The Photographer:

Barney Taxel moved to Cleveland, Ohio, from New York City in 1967. He is an award-winning fine art and commercial photographer and teacher of photography. His work is exhibited and reproduced frequently. Taxel has several books to his credit, including Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, Cleveland: Continuing the Renaissance, The Science of Music as Medicine, Cleveland’s West Side Market: 100 Years & Still Cooking, and The Lake View Cemetery: Photographs From Cleveland’s Historic Landmark, from which this portfolio is excerpted.