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Atlas Obscura: An Artist, a Shantyboat, and the Lost History of American River Communities - Wes Modes is documenting life along America’s waterways. Atlas ObscuraBy Jonathan CareyMarch 7, 2019 THE RIVERS OF THE UNITED States have a certain lore and mystique within American culture. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these roaring waterways were home to thousands. Entire communities existed on or near the water in self-made houseboats. The…
Boating: Wes Modes, Artist/Doc­u­men­tar­ian/ Shanty Boater - Armed with a home­made shanty boat and a video cam­era, Wes Modes has spent the last few years float­ing down rivers big and small, all for his unique project: “A Secret History of Amer­i­can River Peo­ple.”
First Friday Santa Cruz: Secret History Project Tells Untold Stories of the San Lorenzo River - For local artist Wes Modes, this process of finding and sharing the stories of people’s relationships to rivers is a deeply powerful form of social practice—an art form that creates change through human interaction and conversation.
HeraldWeekly: The Lost History of American River Communities, Revisited by an Artist in a Shantyboat - HeraldWeeklyby Mark Villanueva Wes Modes is documenting life along America’s waterways. American rivers used to be home to thousands of people, particularly during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Families lived close to these silvery channels, traded, thrived, as chronicled initially by Harlan Hubbard’s Shantyboat Journal. These communities are mostly gone now, but the mystery of…
Portsmouth Daily-Times: American River People - Portsmouth Daily-Timesby Ivy Potter Several artists have made their way to Portsmouth, courtesy of their rustic recreated shantyboat, to gather information and personal histories of those living along the Ohio River. The Secret History of American River People, the name of the project, operates to build a collection of personal stories of people who live…
Gallipolis Daily Tribune: Shantyboaters seek river people secrets - Gallipolis Daily Tribuneby Dean Wright GALLIPOLIS — A trio of shantyboaters landed in Gallipolis Tuesday to speak with locals about the life and culture of the region as they continued a journey from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and on through Louisville, Kentucky, on the Ohio River. Jeremiah Daniels, Wes Modes and Adrian Nankivell are three companions floating…
Clutch MOV: A Secret History of American River People - Clutch MOVby Sarah Arnold Though once abundant along the shores of the Ohio River, shantyboats are no longer a common sight. These small, crude houseboats were often built and lived in by itinerant workers, miners, dockworkers, and displaced agricultural workers during the late 19th century and into the 1940s, but largely disappeared from river life after…
Marietta Times: Shantyboat historian spends time in Marietta - "It is so cool to be in that space, gathering that storytelling,” she said. “I knew a tiny bit about it before this, from the exhibit at the Ohio River Museum. It makes you realize that the river at one time was just thick with boats like that.”
A shantyboat trip down the Ohio [VIDEO] - A video created by Post-Gazette staff photographer Andrew Rush.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Collecting, making history on the Ohio River - Pittsburgh Post-Gazetteby Christian Snyder When Wes Modes arrived in Pittsburgh, it had been raining nearly every day. But by the time Modes’ homemade shantyboat dips into the water Tuesday, the summer sun shines with a blinding glare. Dotty, as the shantyboat is called, is parked at the Brilliant Boat Club on the Allegheny River in…

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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.
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