Steinbeck christened it the “mother road.” On one hand a cliché, on the other it barely begins to address its immense importance. It was the mother road of a country trying to deliver its people from its center to as far as you could go in one direction. In this case that direction was West. Like the covered wagons and trains before them, our industrialized nation needed a path to the pot of gold that surely lay just beyond that last mile in California. The land where all were movie stars, and the ocean’s roar rocked you to sleep at night even though the sun never seemed to set. Like any good mother the road nurtured all that came within its reach. The motels, the gas stations, the diners, the shops and of course the people, all found comfort, if not their kicks, in its expansive grasp.
No matter the state, or the mile marker, there was someone there, people who seemingly existed only to assist your journey. The plump waitress who called everyone “sugar,” the lanky gas attendant who called everyone “bud” and the husband and wife motel managers that always asked “where’re you folks from?” You were a thousand or more miles from home, but among friends and seldom alone as you moved closer to that big bright sun on the horizon.
Being the people we were, and still are, we needed to be entertained as we continued onward. With that in mind the places where food, fuel and sleep were encountered took on an almost animated appearance. Buildings looked like foods, animals, the Old West, the New West, the future, like everything but what they looked like back home. The colors seemed brighter and their sizes reduced to a perfectly human scale. The people who inhabited these highway stops seemed to live in a world where they were on vacation everyday just like the travelers. Their daily life was our nightly dreams.
The highway endures, but you now have to know what you’re seeking. The clutter and sprawl make it seem almost hidden even though it’s just under the surface of wherever you happen to be. Unlike in the past, these days you do need a map. America still claims it, but is reluctant to acknowledge it to any great degree other than its nostalgic cache.
This series of prints is proof of its continued existence. These images depict it as the artist canvas it has become. The vivid colors, the unique architecture, the ghosts that populate the roadsides all converge to remind us of where we’ve been as a nation, if not how we got there. The highway has been immortalized in many ways over the years with curios, knick-knacks, kitsch, clothing and more. We are pleased to offer our unique hand signed, fine art images on archival paper for your walls. Check back often as we expand our gallery via the thousands of original images we have in our library.