Valley photographer and Surprise resident Thomas Schultz will unveil his latest body of work, “Mysterious Light,” at a special artist reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the West Valley Arts Council’s gallery,13243 N. Founders Park Blvd. in Surprise.

The reception is free to the public and will feature wine, hors d’oeuvres and music.

Schultz has been following the decay of the landscape for over three decades. Using his camera, he documents the interaction of the human resolve and a harsh, unforgiving environment in the Southwest along deserted highways and forgotten towns. Drawn to the decayed and abandoned, his images evoke feelings of loneliness and despair immersed in sublime beauty.

His newest exhibition is no exception. Comprising earlier work as well as his most recent project, 20 large-scale, color photographs depict vast landscapes juxtaposed with once glorious metal relics.

“The photographs on display capture and record a condensed moment in time,” says Schultz. “Each image contains multiple moments in time layered upon itself.”

Last spring, Schultz attended a night photography and light painting workshop at the now-defunct Pearsonville Junkyard in the Mojave Desert, assisted by an artist grant from the West Valley Arts Council. The junkyard, full of hundreds of rare cars, trucks and buses from the 1950s-1970s, provided Schultz with a unique environment. Coupled with full moon exposures and light painting techniques, Schultz created a series of haunting images documenting the abandoned and rusty American automobiles and another piece of Americana on the verge of extinction — the junkyard. Earlier this year, the yard was liquidated and almost every vehicle is now gone.

“Mysterious Light” is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon Fridays through May 20. For information, call the West Valley Arts Council at 623-935-6384 or visit www.westvalleyarts.org.

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