Ode to a Town Village
In 2005 a developer proposed to town officials that they level two blocks of underused storefronts in Cushing Square, one of Belmont’s three town villages, to construct four oversized buildings for 100 upscale apartments, office space, and commercial use, ironically called Belmont Village. By 2013 the Planning Board approved the final design of a development which has crowded neighborhood homes, blocked parking,
sidewalks and streets, and driven out some of the area’s remaining intimate small businesses. Nearly three years ago I began photographing the snail-like progress of this construction. Stalled by lawsuits and finances as in a Dickens novel, the endless construction of these massive box-like buildings with their incongruous and pretentious architectural facades has forever altered the experience of most townspeople. This series is my attempt to capture the clash of history and cultures, the dimensions, textures and mood, and the simple poetic dignity and warmth of an intimate community, which might forever be lost.
Growing up in Rhode Island shaped Jeanne Widmer’s attraction to worn urban locations and friendly, neighborhood businesses. An educator, counselor and writer, Widmer, from Belmont, Massachusetts, has studied photography at the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Griffin Museum and the New England School of Photography. Besides many group exhibits, she has had two solo exhibits, one which captured the vibrancy, color and dark expectancy of a single screen movie theater and another which highlighted the subtle drama and dignity of an historic, working class group of businesses. She exhibited with the Atelier 29th class at the Griffin Museum of Photography focusing on portraits.