Ten years in the making, this photo collection by Havens showcases the motels of Wildwood, a barrier island at the tip of southern New Jersey, whose main adversary is not the rising sea but changing taste as the tony traditionalism of its oceanfront neighbors continues to sweep away the middle-class modernism that is its great but undervalued trademark. This lonely East Coast enclave of the futurist style known locally as “Doo Wop” and more broadly as Googie has attracted increased preservation attention over the last few decades. The island is a Jetsons-like case of forward-looking design rendered cheaply, with such vulgar materials as Flagcrete and Astroturf wielded with great imagination. The photos offer details large and small: not simply obvious icons such as neon signs but close shots of roof and window composition, and studious attention to the often socializing-oriented courtyard or pool-focused motel designs. The book is in some sense a catalogue of kitsch, but with much of its subject imperiled, it serves as a call for preservation as well. Color photos. (Sept.)
"Photographer Mark Havens captures the beauty of each space through small details, from the specific placement of each chair to the unbroken symmetry between every window and door. The book is Havens's decade-long project, composed of dozens of images, documenting the mid-century hotels in this seaside town, some still standing, others repurposed, and many that eventually succumbed to demolition."
"Over a 10 year period, photographer Mark Havens explored the Wildwoods motels at their quietest moments. The book sequences the photographs from dawn to night. There are no people, no sun-seekers or tourists: just evocative photographs of a unique and vanishing form of architecture."
"This book takes a look at the prime coastal location of Wildwood, but not for the sweet boardwalk and sandy dunesrather, the extraordinary well-preserved midcentury motels that dot the town. . . . photographer Mark Havens managed to capture the underlying kitschy spirit of each one."
"Havens' book is a quiet but striking reminder of Wildwood's glory days as not only the epicenter of summer vacations in the mid-Atlantic, but of the bold moves of developers and architects alike during the 50s and 60s."
"At a time when luxury towers and cookie-cutter condo and retail sites now dominate America's landscapes, older buildings often fall victim to gentrification. Thankfully, Philadelphia-based photographer Mark Havens has embarked on a 10-year exploration to preserve the memory of some of the nation's most colorfully eclectic and iconic architecture: the vanishing motels of the Jersey Shore's Wildwood."
"The photographer Mark Havens spent a decade photographing mid-century architecture along the New Jersey coast. . . More than 100 of those images have been compiled into a book. . . .[Havens] photographed the buildings at the beginning or end of the season, when artificial palm trees still bent over the decks, and the pools were still full of water."
"Mark Havens spent his childhood exploring the Jersey Shore's kitschy jewel: Wildwood. Once home to the country's largest concentration of midcentury hotel architecture, the barrier island's distinctive plastic-palm facade has given way to modern condominium development. . . He started photographing the tourist destination nearly 10 years ago, capturing the kidney-shaped pools, the looping neon signs, and the barrage of faded colors before they were gone."
"Can't get to the beach before the end of summer? Flip through the pages of Philadelphia artist Havens' cool photo book. It captures the vintage modernist architecture of Wildwood on the Jersey Shore. . . . Slather on the sunscreen, pour yourself a cold one and enjoy."
"Some love the Jersey Shore for the sea and sand, others for the boardwalks. Photographer Mark Havens' favorite think about the shore is a bit less predictable: the architecture. In his new coffee-table book,
Out of Season, Havensa regular on the beaches of Wildwood, New Jerseypresents a collection of more than 100 photos of the stunning midcentury-modern motels of Wildwood."
"Mark Havens' love for the Wildwoods' motels has been a consuming passion for the last 10 years. . . . Havens hope the new book that reflects his admiration for Wildwood motel architecture will increase peopl's appreciation for the examples that remain. . .
Out of Season: The Vanishing Architecture of the Wildwoods features 105 photos spread over 224 pages."
The Press of Atlantic City
"Photographer Mark Havens spent 10 years documenting the motels of Wildwood in coastal New Jersey - a land of beautiful modernist kitsch, full of pink stilts, zig-zag verandas and ubiquitous palm trees."
"Captured over ten years, Philadelphia-based artist Mark Havens gives the motels of the New Jersey city of Wildwood a different moment in the spotlight, away from the off-highway, cheap and tacky film references that popular culture associate them with. Essentially a revolutionary architectural diary, the new tome titled
Out of Season: The Vanishing Architecture of the Wildwoods historically marks a dialogue that is comparable to many mid-century modern architects."
Out of Season: The Vanishing Architecture of the Wildwoods traces the vibrant 1950s architecture that once shaped the area and is now disappearing at the hands of developers."
For many working families in the Philadelphia region, the island of Wildwood, NJ, has been a favorite vacation destination. Midcentury modern hospitality architecture once dominated the area's coastline, but by the late 1990s, the iconic motels had fallen out of fashion. For more than a decade, photographer Havens has captured Wildwood's motels at the end of their summer seasons, desolate and many set for demolition, but with the lights still on. This monograph includes two introductory essays and 200-plus images. Architecture journalist and critic Joseph Giovannini's analytical piece discusses the development and ultimate demise of Wildwood's architecture, while Jamer Hunt (director, MFA transdisciplinary design, Parsons School of Design) reflects on the authenticity of the island's fabricated, exotic lifestyle as seen through Havens's lens. Hunt's thoughts on nostalgia and fantasy will resonate while viewing the photographs. The color images are in chronological order, from dawn to past dusk, serving as reminders of what is no longer. VERDICT Readers who frequented the region during its heyday will enjoy reminiscing about time spent at the Jersey shore; enthusiasts of midcentury modern architecture will find this singularly important photographic collection especially beautiful.—Shannon Marie Robinson, Drexel Univ. Libs., Philadelphia