Showing posts from October, 2023


  I’ve been struck recently by articles about Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama and Midwest photographer Nathan Pearces. Despite being in vastly different parts of the world, they both jumped off the beaten path to explore mundane places where there was no reason for going. Paul Theroux, the writer, also traveled backroads and prized meetings with people in places forgotten. They all found brief glimpses of beauty and insights that made great art in what others considered banality.


  Gas pumps have been around since 1885, changing much through the years. Invented by Sylvanus Bowser, there were often referred to by his name, still a fixture at some airport fueling hubs. Gas pumps don’t evoke the same fascination they once did. The ring of the bell when a car arriving, the clicking of the numbers, the brightly emblazoned logo of the brand. Modern pumps are called headers and often only vary by the number of different fuels they dispense. All parts mechanically controlled by computer. Usually, you can’t wait to leave their uninspiring and expensive presence. The only saving grace, how quickly they dispense. Older pumps with their colorful character and cranks have disappeared, except in remote or nostalgic places like Route 66. When you're lucky enough to find one, it’s not only the mechanics that enthrall you, it’s their unique art garnered with time. Scrapes, rust and faded colors all pull you in. All treasured memories from times past…


  It is said that if the desert likes your dreams, it will let you stay. If not, it will sweep you away… Perhaps no place reflects this more than Tonopah AZ, a dusty truck stop along I-10 between Buckeye and LA. Over the last 3,000 years it is said that Hokokam, Papayan, Hakataya and Yavapair people have lived in the area, but little remains of there time, save the few petroglyphs in the Saddle Mountains nearby. Once US 80, one of the first cross country roads, went through here. Health seekers and travelers in the 1920’s sought out the warm water wells in the area for their special healing. The native meaning for Tonopah is water. Saguaro Health Sanitarium was built, but now just a fading roadside motel. A local air strip to the east of town anchors planes forgotten by time. Settlers who first came in 1916 found the promised riches in agriculture elusive. Even with exotic approaches, this remains the case today. The only claim to fame the area has is the Palo Verde Nuclear plant, the


  Out front the art all lined up and perfect for the viewing, but there is always the back of the gallery. Where the egos and work of the artists are all stacked up, vying for attention among the trappings of life. A place where showings are plotted, sales confirmed and numbers crunched. All done amidst the crying out of art wanting to be seen. Ode to the back of the gallery where the real art work is done…


  EXHIBIT A - you never know the truth until the end….


  Few things are less permanent than posters in cities. They shout out advertisements in bold letters and images, but are quickly marred, torn away, papered over and impacted by the city. Street slang and graffiti change the original message creating new meaning and color. They are found most in art areas and along the Trade Streets of the world. City places in transition where small buildings linger before being replaced or remodeled for new commerce. Their sides and boarded windows forming the perfect canvas for posting. Artists have long played with the remains of posters. Jacques Villegle (considered the father of street art) took pieces of torn posters to inspire paintings. A photographer wandering urban streets soon finds posters attracting their camera eye. Making special art and language only they can see…