Former Circle K Stores Become Art

PHOENIX -- An older generation of Circle K convenience stores in the region -- which have been turned into dollar stores, bars, florists and even a tattoo parlor -- are in the limelight again as area photographer Paho Mann has focused on them for his work, The Arizona Republic reported.

The stores -- with antiquated designs featuring a tipped-up shed roof, laminated wooden beams and a wall of glass -- are on display at the Sam Lee Gallery in Los Angeles as part of a show: "Locating Landscape: New Strategies, New Technologies," according to the report.

"As a commuter driving around [Phoenix and Albuquerque], it sort of clicked in my head that it was a photographic project," Mann told the paper. He received a master of fine arts degree at Arizona State University in 2007.

His images showcase the Circle K makeovers, from corporate conformity -- which totaled 1,000 locations across the Southwest in 1975 -- into distinctive mom-and-pop storefronts with significant alterations, the newspaper reported. New owners have lopped off wooden beams, added security bars or painted stores with bright colors and murals, the report stated. Current Circle K stores in the region are operated by Canadian retailer Alimentation Couche-Tard.

Mann's photographs feature a straight-on shot of the stores captured in the light of dawn.

"I wanted to emphasize the differences from the buildings themselves," said Mann in the report.

"It's a matter of discovery from somebody else's vision," ASU photography professor Mark Klett told the paper. "I think that's the beauty of it, because it never rose to the level of consciousness until he pointed it out."

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