Press

Recent press
Photos
Contact

Current Releases

IMG_1880 Artist on Tennessee River Journey to Gather Stories - California artist collecting stories of river people HI-RES PHOTOS AVAILABLE: Click Here A rustic recreated 1940s shantyboat, a daring river voyage, and a meticulous archive of river stories are all part of a multi-year art and history project, A Secret History of American River People. Santa Cruz artist Wes Modes is currently floating his homemade…
Secret-History-New-Boston-Square California Artist Launches Tennessee River Expedition on Homemade Shantyboat - Artist raising funds for journey to collect stories of river people. A rustic recreated 1940s shantyboat, a daring river voyage, and a meticulous archive of river stories are all part of a multi-year art and history project, A Secret History of American River People. Santa Cruz artist Wes Modes is fundraising for this year's expedition on the historic Tennessee River.

Photos

Hi-resolution photos are available here. Captions and photo credits are included with each photo.

Press Contact

For press questions or inquiries, please contact Wes Modes below:

Questions, comments, suggestions, or collaborations are welcome. Particularly, if you have essential contacts, resources, or funding that you think will help me on my journey.

* indicates required field

Recent Coverage

Tribune-Courier: Floating Artist September 11, 2016 - - In general, when people are posed with the question, ‘What is art?’ the answers align with ideas of paintings created by the greats like Vincent Van Gogh or fantastic photographs that capture space and time in unique ways like the work of Ansel Adams. The answer might vary a bit and turn into a deep philosophical discussion if the question is posed to a literature major, but we can all agree that contemporary art has forever changed and continuously challenges what sorts of work fit into the category of ‘art.’
Secret History shantyboat visits the American Queen at Port of Paducah Paduca Sun: Artist-in-residence Modes slated to discuss journey of shantyboat September 2, 2016 - - Paducah Arts Alliance artist-in-residence Wes Modes and his 1940s-era shantyboat landed recently in Paducah for two weeks to discuss his ongoing project, "A Secret History of American River People."
Artist Wes Modes aboard the shantyboat Dotty, floating down the Tennessee River this summer as part of Modes' oral history project "A Secret History of American River People." (Dennis Pillion | dpillion@al.com) AL.com: On a shantyboat in Alabama, nights are hot, food is good and stories flow August 26, 2016 - - Smack dab in the middle of the Tennessee River, between the O'Neal Bridge stretching from Muscle Shoals into Florence and TVA's Wilson Dam, a recreated relic of river history is stuck like a catfish on a line, its anchor snagged on God only knows what at the bottom of the river.
11529187_G.jpg Paducah WPSD: Secret History of River People coming to Paducah August 26, 2016 - - The River Discovery Center in Paducah will host an exhibit including a 1940s shantyboat starting Friday.
shantyboat West Kentucky Star: Artist Concludes Daring River Voyage in Paducah August 25, 2016 - - A rustic recreated 1940s shanty boat, a daring river voyage, and a meticulous archive of river stories are all part of a multi-year art and history project, "A Secret History of American River People." Santa Cruz, California artist Wes Modes is currently floating his homemade houseboat on the historic Tennessee River.
080516-ld-shanty-boat-630pm-pkg.jpg Alabama WHNT: California man lives on a ‘Shanty Boat’ documenting Florence residents August 11, 2016 - - It’s one of the oddest sights you might see on the river this summer. Making its way through the Florence Harbor on Friday, Wes Modes captains his hand-made vessel.
Times Daily: Telling secrets: California artist gathers river stories from a shanty August 4, 2016 - - Times Daily By Monica Collier For four days, Friday through Monday, the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts and Florence Harbor and Marina will host Wes Modes and “A Secret History of American River People.” Modes, an artist and oral historian from Santa Cruz, California, has been traveling American rivers in a 1940s era recreated shanty…
Shantyboat on the Tennessee River Florence Courier-Journal: The River’s Life and People August 2, 2016 - - A rustic recreated 1940s shanty boat, a daring river voyage, and a meticulous archive of river stories are all part of a multi-year art and history project, A Secret History of American River People. Santa Cruz, California artist Wes Modes is currently floating his homemade houseboat down the historic Tennessee River.
WAFF Huntsville: Shanty floating down the TN seeking hidden histories of river people [VIDEO] July 30, 2016 - - Get close enough to the Tennessee river, you can hear it’s story. But you can only learn so much, standing on the shore. If you’ve been on the banks the past week in North Alabama, you may have noticed a tiny shack floating down the river. No matter what you may think about the odd sight, the boat’s crew is gathering their own perspective.
shantyboat.jpg WVLT Knoxville: Shanty boat tours America’s rivers via Knoxville [VIDEO] July 28, 2016 - - It's a hot summer day on Knoxville's Volunteer Landing and an old mountain shack rolls up to the dock. Right out of the Beverly Hillbillies.
UK DailyMail: Could you live on a ‘shantyboat’? Artist calls this tiny homemade floating shack home as he journeys around the Tennessee River July 25, 2016 - - A homemade 'shanty boat' is currently floating down the Tennessee River through Alabama to remind Americans of their 'forgotten history'.
20768820-standard.jpg Huntsville Times: Fishing For Stories July 23, 2016 - - Artist cruises into Huntsville today (or tomorrow) on a shantyboat river journey. The boat was built by California-based artist Wes Modes, who is traveling America's rivers to document the stories and history of people who live and work along the rivers. And he'd love to know who he should talk to.
5792270c64183.image.jpg Guntersville Gleam: He’s running the river in a shanty boat July 22, 2016 - - Guntersville Advertiser-Gleam by Joe Cagle People in Guntersville are used to seeing the same sort of traffic coming in and out of the city harbor. The occasional pontoon boat, a bass boat or even a Guntersville Police boat are the norm, with big yachts sometimes visiting. But a very different kind of boat pulled into…
Photo by Clay Duda. Knoxville Mercury: Life Aboard the Shantyboat Dotty [SLIDESHOW] July 21, 2016 - - Knoxville Mercury By Clay Duda Related Posts WVLT Knoxville: Shanty boat tours America’s rivers via Knoxville [VIDEO] Knoxville Mercury: Shanty Dreams: A Quest for the Forgotten Stories of the Tennessee River Knoxville Mercury: Artist to Launch in Knoxville, Collect Stories of ‘River People’ along the Tennessee UK DailyMail: Could you live on a ‘shantyboat’? Artist…
Knoxville Mercury: Shanty Dreams: A Quest for the Forgotten Stories of the Tennessee River July 21, 2016 - - “What the hell have I gotten myself into?” is all I can think as I prepare to board the shantyboat Dotty. This thing doesn’t even look like it could float, much less survive a 652-mile trek down the Tennessee River.
1468014348_River1_t1070_hd0af332db559fe00288c48c33247e549fc6c190d.jpg Chattanooga Times Free Press: Rollin’ on the River: Artist heading down Tennessee River, documenting the lives of river people July 12, 2016 - - Life on America's vast rivers always fascinated Wes Modes. As a youth, Mark Twain's Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer and Harland Hubbard's "Shantyboat Journal" filled him with a desire to experience and document life on the river.
K0014461943-720160629105813000.jpg Knoxville News Sentinel: California artist launches 652-mile Tennessee River trip from Volunteer Landing June 30, 2016 - - Docked at Volunteer Landing at Knoxville's downtown waterfront this week is a 20-foot "shantyboat" that looks all the world like a backwoods cabin perched atop a barge.
23382070696_df756f797b_k-793x529.jpg Knoxville Mercury: Artist to Launch in Knoxville, Collect Stories of ‘River People’ along the Tennessee May 6, 2016 - - Over the past couple of years California-based artist Wes Modes has been piloting his 1940’s shanty boat up and down U.S. waterways with one expressed purpose: to collect and archive the stories of those he has dubbed “river people,” the eclectic cast of folks, like scientists, historians, other shanty boaters, and locals living along side or making a living off the these interconnected tentacles of water.
wilmers-puma-300.jpg UCSC: LASER talk to spotlight research on pumas, filmmaking, river people, and ancient DNA January 25, 2016 - - Over the last few summers, inspired by historical accounts of shantyboaters on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, he set out on a series of journeys to record the lost histories of river communities. The goal of his project, “A Secret History of American River People,” is to build a collection of personal stories of people who live and work on the river.
IMG_3736 Minnesota Post: The 5 standout public art works of 2015 January 2, 2016 - - Everything on this list broadly fits into the category of “public art,” at least in terms of each of them being an artistic project you might find walking around the Twin Cities in 2015. It’s not comprehensive, but it’s a short list of things I saw – or, OK, heard about and then saw on social media later – that stayed with me.
IMG_6767 New Orleans Advocate: Researchers trace Mississippi River, listening and recording every trickle, gurgle and swoosh September 12, 2015 - - Outside Guttenberg, Iowa, they met Wes Modes, who invited them aboard his Shantyboat, a kind of floating cabin built like those historically used by itinerant workers, miners, dockworkers and farmers. Sleeping on the bow, they listened to river sounds while towing the ORB behind, recording through the hydrophone. Occasionally, they docked, allowing random curiosity-seekers to try out the headphones.
55f25b2f87dcf.image.jpg Muscatine Journal: California artist stops in Muscatine on river odyssey September 11, 2015 - - Wes Modes, Santa Cruz, California, is on the second leg of a trip down the Mississippi River collecting stories of river life and the people who live along the river. His shanty boat has a sleeping loft, small galley kitchen, library, and toilet. He been traveling for nearly three months and is hoping to reach St. Louis, Missouri before the weather turns too cold to travel.
Hernando_de_Soto_Bridge_Memphis-1050x1007.jpg Open Rivers: Knowing the Mississippi September 7, 2015 - - We asked a diverse group of river people to respond to the prompt “How did you come to know the Mississippi River? What does it mean, to you, to know the Mississippi River?” We present below a few of the responses, in no particular order.
55da58e520143.image.jpg Quad-City Times: California artist travels Mississippi for ‘river people’ project August 23, 2015 - - If you happen to see Wes Modes, 48, of Santa Cruz, Calif., and his dog, Hazel, floating around the Quad-Cities, stop and have a chat. He’d love that. And you might become part of Mississippi River history through his "Secret History of American River People" art project. Modes, 48, is traveling through the Quad-City area on his homemade “shanty boat” to collect stories of people who live along the river — especially people whose voices always might not be heard.
International Sculpture Center: Wes Modes: Secret History of American River People August 12, 2015 - - The Mississippi River runs deep through American culture. From early Native Americans to Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the Blues and Hurrican Katrina, the history of the country is in constant flux, much like the river itself. The fascination with the mysteries and power of the world’s fourth longest river is subtle, but undeniable.
Shantyboat.jpg Waukon Standard: California artist seeking stories of river history, lifestyles July 10, 2015 - - A rustic recreated 1940s shantyboat, a daring river voyage, and a meticulous archive of river stories are all part of a multi-year art and history project being undertaken by artist Wes Modes of Santa Cruz, CA and entitled "A Secret History of American River People." Modes set sail last summer on the Mississippi River to collect the stories of people who live and work on the river from the deck of his homemade houseboat. This year, he and his crew (and dog) have started near La Crosse, WI, where he left off last September and are slowly making their way downriver.
15236478087_07ff70afaf_o-copy-1080x675.jpg Heartland Boating: A Secret History of American River People July 9, 2015 - - Ten years ago, Wes Modes of Santa Cruz, California, was reading about a group of kids who were making whacky, homemade boats and then cruising them down the Mississippi River. That type of adventure resonated with Modes, a computer programmer and artist with a love of the water and an appreciation for the lyrical qualities of a great river. He decided to plan his own journey, only he chose to travel with his friends on a fleet of homemade rafts powered by oars. Modes and company trailered their craft east and put in on the Missouri River, where they floated for weeks, camping along the shore each night. The trip was so successful that Modes and company met up the next year and the next, on a different waterway each time.
Logan and Emilia aboard the shantyboat Minneapolis City Pages: River City Revue explores Mississippi culture June 30, 2015 - - The event gives you a chance to see the art shanty boat created by Wes Modes. Last year Modes, who is an MFA student at the University of California, took his boat on a trip down the Mississippi, collecting stories of how people live on the river.
StarTribune: Pictures of the day. June 30, 2015 - - Top Photos for June 30. Kara Yorkhall and daughter Juliette,3, stepped unto the back deck after chatting with captain/artist Wes Modes who will traveling on the Missississippi for the next three months or so. At the Minnesota Center, gathered on a 1940's shantyboat on display as part of "A Secret History of American River People" which hails itself as "a journey to discover, present, and connect the lost narratives of river people..."
Shantyboat.jpg Dubuque Telegraph Herald: River exhibition will dock in Dubuque June 25, 2015 - - A rustic shanty boat, a daring river voyage and a meticulous archive of river stories encompassing a multi-year art and history project. It might sound like something out of the fictitious works of Mark Twain. But for California artist Wes Modes, it has been his reality for the past year-and-a-half.
Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 3.01.34 PM Artist On Art: Wes Modes, Artist Interview June 20, 2015 - - Artist Activist, Wes Modes came onto Artists on Art, June 18, 2014, to talk about his newest project, The Secret History of American River People, a slow meandering trip down the Mississippi in a shanty boat collecting stories. Using audio, video, and digital media, Secret History archives and presents oral histories of major American rivers, including the lost stories of river people, river communities, and the river itself, as well as the personal chronicle of his research journey.
shantyboat.-photo-credit-Wes-modes-119370_481x230.jpg 1 Mississippi: Reeling in River Stories June 20, 2015 - - What would you do with a houseboat the size of an office cubicle? Well, if you’re itinerant artist and general river enthusiast, Wes Modes, you embark on a multi-month journey down the Mississippi River. I had the pleasure of meeting Wes at the first River City Revue of the summer. Wes and his trusty companion, Hazel the Dog, welcomed us aboard the boat.
Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 4.21.34 PM Reddit: I am an artist spending the summer in a shantyboat on the Mississippi River gathering stories of river people. AMA! June 3, 2015 - - I am Wes Modes, DIY boater and artist. For years I've been building DIY boats, often out of trash, and floating down major American rivers. Last year, we put our homemade untested houseboat in the Misssissippi River for a month to gather stories of river people (with my ex-sweetheart at ship's mate). When we did our AMA last year, we were totally unsure that we weren't going to our certain doom.
IMG_6120 Santa Cruz Sentinel: Artist turns a journey down the Mississippi into rich oral history September 24, 2014 - - We're all sharing our "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" anecdotes around the metaphorical water cooler this time of year. Long-time Santa Cruz artist and activist Wes Modes has his story too, though it might sound to many ears as if the summer vacation he's talking about is the summer of 1881. Modes launched an ambitious oral-history project over the summer that he calls "The Secret History of American River People." Modes and his "first mate" Kai Dalgleish (and his loyal dog Hazel) embarked for a month-long trip on the grand Mississippi River in a shantyboat much like people have done from the beginning of American settlement of the region.
5D3_0978_0 Small and Not So Small Town Press [Updated] August 16, 2014 - - We’ve done our best to try to let people know we are coming downriver. Some of the local press have picked up our story. Artist turns a journey down the Mississippi into rich oral history Santa Cruz Sentinel Two Art Students Take Journey in Shantyboat on Mississippi KTTV, Rochester, MN and WXOW , La Crosse,…
4492718_G.jpg La Crosse WXOW: 2 art students take journey in shantyboat on Mississippi August 15, 2014 - - Two art students from California are traveling down the Mississippi River this month in a one of a kind boat, while working on a project called Secret History of the American River People.Wes Modes and Kai Dalgleish are both masters art students at the University of California Santa Cruz, floating down the river in a vessel fit for Huckleberry Finn.
53ed777e2e229.image.jpg La Crosse Tribune: Artist plies Mississippi in Shantyboat to net historical portraits August 14, 2014 - - California-based artists Wes Modes and Kai Dalgleish are traveling down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to Davenport, Iowa, collecting oral histories and stories of river people. Modes, a grad student at University of California Santa Cruz, is doing the project for his master's thesis. The Shantyboat, built largely from salvage from a chicken coop, is powered with a 1968, 9.5-horspower motor.
shantyguysweb6257.jpg Winona Post: History afloat down the river August 13, 2014 - - It is August on Latsch Island, that beautiful time of year when everything moves a little slower, from the water that laps up the sides of boathouses, to the mellow hum of nearby cicadas. Inside a small shanty boat anchored off a sandy plot of land beside the Wagon Bridge, two people sit relaxed at a table, sipping hot coffee and enjoying the few savory moments of leisure before continuing their journey on the Mississippi River to discover the stories for a larger anthology of American river culture.
ows_140693535529127.jpg Minneapolis Star Tribune: Shantyboat heads down the Mississippi, gathering stories August 2, 2014 - - The Mississippi River has changed in many ways over the past century, becoming cleaner, less industrial and less economically essential. But there are still places where the banks are lined with houseboats. “There’s folks who are river rats who’ve had their own river-rafting journeys starting in Minneapolis. Many of them have floated all the way down to New Orleans,”
5D3_0978.jpg Hastings Star Gazette: California artist in shantyboat stops in Hastings during Mississippi River tour July 31, 2014 - - Hastings Star Gazette/Pierce County Herald by Chad Richardson It’s not uncommon to see boats moored on the public dock in Hastings. There’s not much common about the boat that Wes Modes and Kai Dalgleish are traveling in, though. Their unique boat, which was parked in Hastings on July 30 and July 31, drew all kinds of…
Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 4.21.34 PM Reddit: I am an artist who hopes you don’t read about my death when we launch our homemade (and untested) shantyboat on the Mississippi River AMA! June 7, 2014 - - For years I’ve been building DIY boats, often out of trash, and floating down major American rivers. This year, we’re launching the shantyboat we’ve been working on for two years on the Upper Mississippi River on an “anthro-historical journey to uncover the lost narratives of river people, river communities, and the river itself,” part of…