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Art show involving motel room on Route 66 coming to Tulsa December 9, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Motels, Photographs.
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Tulsa-based photographer Western Doughty will display 75 original images from his “Route 66: Room 116″ project from Jan. 3 through Jan. 23 at Living Arts in Tulsa, according to a story from the Associated Press.

Doughty explained the project on his website:

We have this romanticized idea of Route 66 and all that it has embodied throughout the years: trip adventure, excitement, heading West. The reality is, the motel rooms along this famed highway, then and now, are way stations, emotional waiting rooms.

To capture the intimacy of what has unfolded in any Route 66 motel room over the years, I lived in one for the duration of the shoot, leaving the room available to anyone who wanted to come by, any time of night or day. So the element of adventure and excitement lay in not knowing what was going to unfold, giving little direction and just capturing the intimacy of people’s real experiences. I had no idea what was going to transpire, and in some cases, neither did the subjects.

The textures of the motel room: the bed, scuffed walls, a popcorn ceiling, combined with the human elements of skin, body, fabrics, provided all materials I was looking for. They were perfect for my study in contrasts.

Doughty posted about 40 of the “Room 116″ images on his website. I’m not going to link directly to it, because it has some partial nudity and adult situations in a few photos. But you may navigate to it from his portfolio page.

I’m pretty sure a few actors are in the photos, but I’m pretty sure the images feature non-actors as well. Then there’s some where you can’t tell, which proves a bit unsettling. And, yes, the photos are terrific.

The motel used for the photographs was the historic Desert Hills Motel in Tulsa. I’m sure it’s a room used for long-term tenants, not overnight travelers. I’ve stayed at the motel in the overnight section, and it was fine.

I hold mixed feelings about this project, as it shows the grimy underside of Route 66 and may inadvertently put the motel in a semi-questionable light. However, that underside always has been there, and it’s better to acknowledge than deny it. As folks in Albuquerque attest, their city benefited from embracing the acclaimed but seamy “Breaking Bad” television drama than pretending it didn’t exist.

(Image from “Route 66: Room 116″ courtesy of Western Doughty)


1. Connor Raus - December 10, 2013

Route 66 is mostly “seamy” now and that’s alright. It is also the largest retirement thoroughfare around!

Go see this show!

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