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Photographer will open exhibit in Kirkwood gallery March 30, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Events, Photographs.
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Missouri-based photographer Mark Appling Fisher will open his “Route 66 and Beyond” exhibit at the Ober Anderson Gallery in Kirkwood, Mo., on Friday.

According to a news release from the gallery about his photos:

Among them are hand colored, infrared film images of from unusual sites along the old Route 66, including a pink elephant shot with a homemade pinhole camera, images taken by the unpredictable and quirky, plastic holgas and colorful carnival chalk figurines.

Mark Appling Fisher is a professional fine art photographer from the Midwest. Fisher taught for more than forty years as an elementary school music teacher, a video production instructor and instructional media technologist. He now teaches black and white film photography, as well as alternative processes, toy camera, plastic camera, and pinhole photography. He loves all things film, and has found great satisfaction with digital photography, especially for color work.

Appropriately enough, the gallery is at 101 W. Argonne Drive, which is on a corner of an alignment of Route 66 in Kirkwood (map here).

Fisher recently completed a Kickstarter campaign for his “Turn Left at the Blinking Light” project. This video that came with the campaign shows his talents and interests well:

(Mark Appling Fisher image of the Bel-Air Drive-In sign in Mitchell, Ill., via Kickstarter)

Old-time photo studio opens across from Blue Swallow Motel March 21, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Photographs.
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An old-time-style photography studio has opened across the road from the landmark Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, N.M.

The couple that opened those businesses also plan to eventually open a Route 66 wedding chapel in that space.

Here is one of the sets Mother Road Old Time Photos uses:

According to a story in the Tucumcari-based Quay County Sun:

Mother Road Old Time Photos opened its doors on Saturday, offering an opportunity to dress like a 19th Century cowboy or western lady, and pose for an old-time sepia-tone photo, carrying a period weapon of choice in a Wild West setting—the saloon or around the poker table.

The store will also offer holiday merchandise for the Christmas season, according to Rhys Williams, who owns the new shop with his wife Leigh.

Leigh Williams said by email that no firm date has been set for opening the wedding chapel, other than after the photo studio generates enough revenue to help pay for it.

People are welcome to supply their own minister and witnesses and we provide the venue. Once open we will have other add ons available,  such as bouquet,  photographer, motel/dinner packages. [...] The wedding chapel is still in the plan, but not yet ready to open.

Tucumcari would be ideal to set up a wedding chapel for many westbound Route 66 travelers. That’s especially true for same-sex couples from the neighboring states of Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma, where same-sex marriage isn’t yet legal and Tucumcari is the first sizable town in New Mexico along the corridor. New Mexico legalized gay marriage in December.

The point being: Why should Las Vegas have all the fun with elopements?

A great spot for a Route 66 selfie March 15, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Photographs.
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Route 66 News reader Mark Nicklawske of Bangor, Maine, wanted to pass along a great spot to shoot a photo of a Route 66 landmark or a self-portrait, aka selfie, with your smartphone.

That landmark is the historic Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, Calif., which carries westbound Route 66 travelers to Los Angeles.

I’d always seen terrific photos of the Art Deco bridge taken from close to underneath the span, but never investigated how to get that angle. But Nicklawske, with the help of a friend, figured out how.

He wrote in an email, which I’ve edited slightly:

I’m attaching a picture taken by my cousin Chris Higgins, who lives in Pasadena. Chris took us underneath the 1913 Colorado  Blvd. bridge, one of the most beautiful bridges on the old Route 66. We discovered a fantastic place to photograph the bridge — an exposed sewer pipe and manhole. The spot is located just off North Arroyo Boulevard, which runs under the east end of the bridge. Adventurous photographers should park in a small lot north of the bridge, cross under the bridge and look for the exposed sewer pipe and manhole sticking out from the river bank. Your readers will find it a great perch for a “selfie.”

Here’s a map that will help you get close to that spot:

View Larger Map

I’m sure Scott Piotrowski, who’s an expert on all things about Route 66 in Los Angeles County, knows about the vantage point. But now that I have it, I’m passing it along.

(Image courtesy of Mark Nicklawske)

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)

Two blasts from the past October 12, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Photographs, Road trips.
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Jim Farber, who’s helping the Autry National Center in Los Angeles with its upcoming “Route 66: The Road and the Romance” show, said he recently found an old photo of a family on the road at a paper show.

“I did not realize until I was driving Route 66 this summer that it was taken on the National Old Trails road in Oatman!” Farber said in an email.

He’s referring to Oatman, Ariz., which became part of Route 66 with its federal certification in 1926. The photo above is believed to have been shot about 1919.

“I also found this wonderful image which is definitely going to be in the show of Thelma and Louise 50 years before Thelma and Louise,” Farber said.

Note: I increased the contrast in the photos so the backgrounds could be seen better.

Farber said the people in both images remain unidentified. So you to recognize an ancestor in these pictures, let us know in the comments section.

He said both photos would “almost certainly” be included in the show, which opens June 7.

(Photos courtesy of Jim Farber)

“Twentysix Gasoline Stations” art book marks 50th anniversary September 22, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Museums, Photographs.
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Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha self-published his art photography book, “Twentysix Gasoline Stations,” 50 years ago this year.

Few would have predicted the book, which portrays 26 gas stations on Route 66 from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City, would have proved so influential to other artists. NPR posted this report on the book:

Exceprts from the program:

[T]he photos nonetheless provide a glimpse into where the artist was coming from. The son of an insurance auditor, Ruscha was raised in Oklahoma City, but moved to L.A. in 1956. The gas stations he photographed all sat on Route 66, the highway he rode on his regular visits home.

“I just had a personal connection to that span of mileage between Oklahoma and California,” Ruscha explains. “It just, it kind of spoke to me.”

A recent video about Ruscha’s work, including his gas station art:

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles is holding an “In Focus: Ed Ruscha” exhibit through the rest of the week. The exhibit includes rarely seen contact sheets of Ruscha’s photography.

Getty’s online magazine features more Ruscha images here.

(Image of Ed Ruscha explaining one of his “Twentysix Gasoline Stations” photos, by libby rosof via Flickr)

Roy’s in Amboy hosts Olympus video and photo shoot August 14, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Movies, Photographs.
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The Olympus website is prominently featuring the Route 66 landmark Roy’s in Amboy, Calif., as a way to promote the camera company’s OM-D model.

A screen capture from a scene of the video shoot is shown above. But I urge you to see the videos and photos from the Roy’s shoot here.

Commercial photographer John Sterling Ruth presided over the shoot. According to a blog post by Reid Carrescia, the shoot at Roy’s happened about three months ago. According to Ruth and Carrescia, the shoot included 100-degree heat, 50 mph winds and lots of dust.

Two observations:

  • The video and photographs show the capabilities of the camera very well.
  • It’s nice to see photographers employing middle-aged models for their shoots.
  • The Route 66 shoot started showing up on the Internet in late July.

    And, according to my Shazam app, the song playing in the video is “Boy With a Kite” by Joe Moralez. You can download the song for 99 cents from Amazon here.

    (Hat tip: Jim Hinckley)

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