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The Quiet Hours

City Photographs

2003
Author:

Mike Melman

The Quiet Hours

A visual tribute to the industrial spaces and commercial interiors of Minnesota’s prewar era

With an essay by Bill Holm

In The Quiet Hours, Mike Melman records a vanishing era of Minnesota’s towns and cities through a series of seventy black-and-white photographs taken from 1985 to 2002. Working in the half-light of predawn hours, Melman brings a new perspective to familiar places. In his essay, Bill Holm compares Melman’s work to that of Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg, artists who embrace and celebrate the urban experience.

Minnesota, especially the Twin Cities, wants to present an appearance of cosmopolitan sophistication. It so wants to be modern! But Mike Melman keeps rummaging around in its past. He uses his camera to find for us the soul of the state.

Jerome Liebling

A milling district along the Mississippi River. A railroad bridge on Washington Avenue. Jim’s Hamburgers in Duluth. A spiral staircase in the Schmidt Brewery. These are the spaces that capture the moods of Minnesota’s prewar era. These are the everyday places where ordinary people lived and worked. These are the images that show us the remnants of a city’s past.

In The Quiet Hours, Mike Melman records a vanishing era of Minnesota’s towns and cities through a series of seventy black-and-white photographs taken from 1985 to 2002. Working in the half-light of predawn hours, Melman brings a new perspective to familiar places, one shaped by his training as an architect and his particular affinity for old buildings. Melman’s atmospheric photographs give us insight into the bygone life of a city where we had not thought to look for one before.

In his essay, Bill Holm compares Melman’s work to that of Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg, artists who embrace and celebrate the urban experience. Holm writes, “These photographs take us a long way toward an understanding of that mighty heart of a city. . . . These are very American pictures in their stubbornness, their integrity, and their dogged affection for the working-class life buried inside them.”

Through his artistic and historic images, Melman exposes the speed at which American cities change and presents a gritty yet contemplative portrait of urban Minnesota.

The Quiet Hours

Mike Melman’s photographs have been exhibited in numerous galleries and museums in the Twin Cities and have appeared in Architecture Minnesota and Minnesota History.


Bill Holm is a poet and essayist living in Minneota, Minnesota. Among his recent books are Eccentric Islands: Travels Real and Imaginary and The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere on Earth: Minneota, Minnesota.

The Quiet Hours

Minnesota, especially the Twin Cities, wants to present an appearance of cosmopolitan sophistication. It so wants to be modern! But Mike Melman keeps rummaging around in its past. He uses his camera to find for us the soul of the state.

Jerome Liebling

The Quiet Hours: City Photographs . . . is an eerie and beautiful collection of photographs.

Dave Wood

In this series of stunning black and white photographs, Melman finds the eerie calm of Minnesota’s urban industrial centers. . . . Each picture is a testimonial to working Minnesota.

Ripsaw

Melman’s sometimes gritty, sometimes contemplative views of familiar spots evoke the past without nostalgia.

Minnesota History

The side of Minnesota you might never have seen before. . . the familiarity and yet unfamiliarity has an out-of-body enchantment about it.

Minnesota Daily

Deeply affecting.

Architecture Minnesota

The Quiet Hours

CONTENTS

Preface

Cities of Shadow and Light i BILL HOLM
The Quiet Hours: City Photographs