Primitive Park depicts a public, 160-acre greenway surrounded by two housing developments in the suburbs of Austin, Texas. The site was chosen by the housing developer among other sites because it required the least amount of work to make it into a greenway for the enjoyment of local residents. There are six miles of trails, color-coded blue, red, yellow, and orange, and the park closes at sunset.
My interest in this area is primarily formal: how the trail and trees wind around each other, how light graces the path in discrete bands in the late afternoon, and how branches arch and bend overhead. As I walked along the paths over several afternoons, however, I couldn’t help but notice the houses between tree branches, the community’s water tower, a small sculpture of rocks made by hikers, and other neighboring developments in the distance.
The name of the project comes from the park’s full name, Falconhead West Primitive Park. The park is indeed “primitive.” Its paths are simple, but well-maintained and clear. Its spare, uneven trees and brush perhaps do not embody the picturesque. One news article from 2014 described the park as “unimproved.” However primitive this site is, perhaps what emerges in these photographs are small glimpses of a kind of natural beauty that we still find important to embrace and hold close.