For their Contact installation, “Motels of Niagara Falls,” photographers Oliver Pauk and Zach Slootsky captured the current sate of that city’s colourful array of vintage stopovers. The result is half urban-planning study and half faded nostalgia for an iconic tourist destination fallen into disrepair. We asked Slootsky to give us the inside scoop on some of the images.
1. Knights Inn
“We definitely came back to this one a few times. I love the detail. There’s a little flamingo on the fence by the pool. Most of the Flamingo branding is gone [from when it was called the Flamingo Motel] but there are still little details, like in the colour scheme. It’s kind of like, this is the kids’ play area, and the motel is like the adults’ play area. I also just love how empty it is. There’s still water in the pool and I like the light that’s peeking out behind the tree. I like the tree the most—this lonely tree in the middle of this concrete parking lot.”
2. Kingsview Motel
“This photo’s the only shot [in the show] from inside a motel room. The motel was definitely in use, but they only had a couple rooms to pick from when we asked to see them. It might’ve been a while since people stayed, but not years.”
3. Anchor Boat Motel
“It’s abandoned and was wide open. I just love the old Pepsi sign; Pepsi hasn’t had that logo in so many years. The lobby was open and there were years-old calendars with days circled and signs like “closed for the weekend” when it had [already] closed forever. It had a very deserted feeling to it and hadn’t been cleaned out much at all. There were old passports of the family that operated it. We’ve been back [there] so many times, with different cameras, shooting different angles. Something about this one keeps us coming back.”
4. Rainbow Motor Inn
“I’m up on the balcony on the second or third floor. They drained the pool and hadn’t cleaned out the bottom yet. It’s just a motel in a state of transition, which seems to be a reccurring theme, unintentionally. Things get really sleepy there in the winter, too, so there’s a certain quiet sadness about the end of the season. This is really close to downtown. They have one of the most expensive pieces of property because of how close they are to the casino.”
Motels of Niagara Falls runs until May 31 at the Drake Lab (1140 Queen St. W. #WQW) as part of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival.