By Carl Corey
With a view both familiar and undeniably unique, perceptibly eerie but somehow warmly inviting, photographer Carl Corey’s pictures in Tavern League: Portraits of Wisconsin Bars capture the Wisconsin public house as it is today. The 60 pictures collected here are awash with a sense of place — the lingering tang of cigarette smoke, the feel of a gritty floor as a bar stool is pushed back, the ease of sinking into a dimly lit womb of good company and cold beer. Supernaturally vivid colors intertwine with distinctly average vignettes to reveal the magical, and fleeting, quality of these singular places and the people who love them.
A stunningly evocative collection of documentary pictures, Tavern League serves as a sociological snapshot. Our bars are unique micro-communities offering patrons a sense of belonging; many are the only public gathering place in the rural communities they serve. These simple taverns provide the valuable opportunity for face to face conversation and camaraderie, particularly as people become more physically isolated through the accelerated use of social networking, mobile texting, gaming, and the rapid-fire of email. The Wisconsin tavern presented here is an important segment of the Wisconsin community — one whose evolution, and even continued existence, stands in question in a young twenty-first century.