Press

Recent Coverage

Small Boats: River People – Shantyboat on the Sacramento River- Wes Modes spent two years building a shantyboat using salvaged materials and in 2014 he began voyaging America’s rivers. He takes us along on his voyage down California’s Sacramento river.
Highlands Current: Shanty on the River- Highlands Current By Ross Corsair Wes Modes and Lauren Benz, accompanied by Hazel the dog, are sailing down the Hudson River to New York City aboard a shanty boat. We caught up with them on July 15 in Kingston, a few days before they passed the Highlands to dock in Haverstraw, opposite Croton. Modes and…
Rockland/Westchester Journal: A shanty in Haverstraw: A floating art project explores the lives and history of ‘river people’- Rockland/Westchester Journal by Rochel Leah Goldblatt HAVERSTRAW – Wes Modes stood on the bow of his shanty as it bobbed gently at Admirals Cove Marina on Friday morning, a cup of coffee in a mason jar and his four-legged companion, Hazel, at his side. Modes, a Santa Cruz artist and lecturer at two California universities, arrived…
The Daily Freeman: Shanty boat crew, docking in Kingston, gathers disappearing history of nation’s river people- The Daily Freeman by William J. Kemble   KINGSTON, N.Y. >> The Hudson River is the fourth leg of a journey by Wes Modes and his shanty boat crew mates, who have spent the past four years gathering stories of how the nation’s major rivers became arteries of life flowing through the American landscape. Modes, an…
The Saratogian: Steamboat Meet brings ships, tales to Waterford- The Saratogian By Joseph Phelan WATERFORD, N.Y. >> Over the past five years Wes Modes has explored river life in the South, the Midwest and his resident West Coast, discovering stories that shape America. Modes and his shipmate, Benzy, found themselves in Waterford on Saturday at the annual Steamboat Meet at the harbor, adding stories…
WAMC Albany: Searching For Hudson River Stories On A Shanty Boat [AUDIO]- WAMC Public Radio By Lucas Willard   Listen Now to the WAMC Public Radio story:   A recreated mid-century shanty boat is traveling down the Hudson River in search of stories. “A Secret History of American River People” is a project by a California-based artist Wes Modes. Modes took WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas…
Post-Star: Shantyboat docks in Fort Edward to collect Hudson River stories- Post-Star by Gwendolyn Craig FORT EDWARD — It’s not every day that one might see a shantyboat floating down the Hudson River, but many people did Sunday around the Fort Edward Yacht Basin. Wes Modes, shantyboat maker, artist, story collector and captain, opened his floating home to the public, helping kick off part of the World Awareness…
Santa Cruz Sentinel: “A Secret History” at Ebb & Flow River Arts Festival- Artist Wes Modes leaned against his shantyboat’s helm by the wooden dinette and his dog, Hazel, while he distributed free postcard photos of the 1940s-style vessel’s journeys on U.S. rivers.
Fair Companies: How shantyboats down the Mississippi helped build a culture- Long before Wes Modes began planning a journey down the Mississippi, he started building a traditional barge-bottom houseboat in a California backyard out of rustic reclaimed materials (e.g. old fences and chicken coops). Once his shantyboat was complete he hatched a plan to transport it across the country from Santa Cruz to Minnesota to begin a “Huck-Finn style” journey down the iconic American river.
15419846401_a507beb2dd_z.jpg Laughing Squid: Artist Rides Rivers in a Homemade Shantyboat to Learn About the People Who Live on the Banks- Wes Modes, an artist and lecturing professor at UC Santa Cruz and a crew full of creative mates built a shanty boat out of found materials and trash and rode down both the Mississippi River and the Tennessee River over the course of the past two summers.

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Current Releases

Gathering the Untold Stories of Vanishing Hudson River People- A rustic recreated mid-century shanty boat, a daring river voyage on New York’s historic Hudson River, and a meticulous archive of river stories are all part of a compelling art and history project, “A Secret History of American River People.” The journeys are part of a larger effort that spans many years and covers multiple…
A Secret History of American River People in Sacramento- The Sacramento History Museum is proud to present a compelling new exhibit titled A Secret History of American River People opening on Saturday, July 1, 2017. The special art and history project is part of a larger effort that spans many years and covers multiple rivers.
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…
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.