The Train Penny Blues, 1998-99, 16mm

The film is about the scraps and remnants of story. The bits and pieces which imply whole narratives, entire histories, full lives lived. All stories cannot be known, all books cannot be read, all artifacts cannot be placed in their full context. But that doesn’t have to stop us from respecting the fact that everything does have a complete history extending back to the origins of the universe. The full complexity of the narrative of reality is always well beyond our grasp, and we can respect and wish it well by admitting that we don’t know it, at least not all of it.

DID YOU KNOW? (movie trivia)

This film was shot in the area between Union Station and the South Platte River in the late 1990’s when it was still an abandoned field with train tracks running through it. A requiem for earth covered by industry and urban development.

The title comes from a habit I had while commuting to work of leaving pennies on the train tracks in the mornings and then picking them up as thinner copper ovals on my walk back to the bus at the end of the day. The field with the train tracks was part of my shortcut to the animation studio from the bus stop on the back side of Union Station. The field was filled with the wild grasses and sunflowers you can see in black and white in the film. It was like an abandoned wild scrap of park in the middle of LoDo. There were praying mantis’, ants, jack rabbits, a whole eco system living in that field. It was all covered over in concrete, apartments, and office buildings during the LoDo revitalization project in the early 2000’s.

The train cars in the film were photographed at the old Forney Transportation Museum in the building that’s now the LoDo REI. You can see the brick of the outside walls in the film.

The cave with rosaries and statuettes is one of the spontaneous shrines along Hwy 160 between Walsenburg and Alamosa made by people in the area as a memorial (possibly a shrine for lost family). I bet it’s still there now. Like celluloid film, some things will reliably withstand the tests of time. This film still exists on celluloid as a brightly colored print.

The butterfly and flower animation at the beginning of the film was a collaboration with Jodie Emmett who now makes jam and runs a sheep farm in Eastern New York State. She found and collected those bits and pieces of flowers and insect wings on her travels, and she donated them to this collection of scraps transformed into art. Thanks Jo.