A collection of Michael Traister’s photographs is now on display at Izzy’s Coffee Den until April 23. Appropriately titled Chicken Scratch, the photos span a six-year-period and document the lush life, graffitied walls and miscellaneous paraphernalia found in Carolina Lane and Chicken Alley of downtown Asheville.
For over 20 years, the Asheville-based photographer has been shooting musicians, sock monkeys, local yokels and memorabilia of the greater Southeast. His unforgettable black-and-white portraits outfitted both “Freaks of Asheville” calendars (2010 and 2011,) and his self-produced coffee table book, Faces of Izzy’s, is a compelling examination of a specific cross section of Asheville’s population.
Fortunately, Traister’s extensive knowledge of his craft doesn’t supersede his creative eye. He sees gold in a broken doll, a hand-written note and kids playing with makeshift guns. Most memorable is his photo of a giant snow phallus that was, um, erected after the big snowstorm of 2009 — a reminder of the beautiful perversities all around us.
Traister’s choice to immortalize moments and objects easily forgotten gives a nod to the underdogs of this world. In one, an abandoned bicycle is smothered in translucent threads of ice. In another, a moustached mannequin head bears a sticker — attached by who only knows — that simply states, “I threw up.”
It’s funny. It’s Traister.
Chicken Scratch will hang at Izzy’s through Saturday, April 23. Be sure to check out the miniature sock monkey narratives near the milk containers, and the large Carolina Lane diorama hanging above them.
Izzy’s is located at 74 North Lexington Ave.