The most recent collaboration between Phoenix Art Museum and the University of Arizona’s Center for Creative Photography (CCP), Longer Ways to Go: Photography of the American Road delves deep into the complex dialogue that photography can enter into with a subject dear to many. This exhibition explores the symbiotic relationship between photography and the folklore of the American highway, including the emblematic Route 66. Longer Ways juxtaposes photographs from different eras, exploring themes related to travel, ideals of small-town life, the national heritage of westward expansion, and personal freedom.
The exhibition was inspired by a body of photographs of Route 66 by Kozo Miyoshi, a Japanese photographer and former artist in residence at the Center for Creative Photography. Taken in the 1990s, Miyoshi’s photographs of Route 66 are complex, even ambivalent in tone. Rather than re-creating the Route 66 of historical imagination, his photographs show both the areas of 66 that have managed to survive through ingenuity and the once-iconic sites that have fallen into disrepair. Miyoshi’s works embody a construction of American identity that is becoming increasingly self-referential; they suggest the landmark’s transition from highway to scenic byway, from America to Americana.
Alongside Miyoshi’s photographs, Longer Ways to Go features a diverse selection from the vast photographic body documenting the image of the American road. Chronologically, Longer Ways to Go begins with works by Depression-era photographers including Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Arthur Rothstein, and extends to the present day. The exhibition also features work by Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Robert Frank, Gary Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, Danny Lyon, Ed Ruscha, Joe Deal, Stephen Shore, Richard Avedon, Richard Misrach, Christopher Churchill and scott b. davis.
The works will be organized thematically, covering topics such as the view of nature from a car window and the cult of the automobile. These depictions investigate the extent to which American identity has a sometimes fraught, but always significant, relationship with the idea and practice of the open road. Longer Ways to Go suggests that not only does travel reflect cultural habits of consumption and leisure; the meaning with which we imbue it speaks to something deep and ineffable within American self-construction.
SEE STREET VIEWS - IN THE GALLERY!
We invite you to see current street views via Google Street View of some locations featured in Longer Ways to Go; use this link to find a gallery of available views. One of the most significant events in the photographic history of the road has been Google’s ongoing Street View project, an effort to image the world’s roads and their adjacent scenery and use those images to create an immersive environment. In the process of compiling billions of images, Google incidentally captured “rephotographs” of a handful of pictures in this exhibition. Rephotographs—images resulting from returning to the site of an existing photograph to photograph it again—have been used by both artists and scientists to make change visible. Seen in this context, the photographs on the walls become the “before” pictures in a before-and-after sequence. The contemporary Street View images shed light on our values by showing what we have altered and what we’ve chosen to preserve.
Roger Minick, Airstream at Monument Valley, Arizona, 1979. Collection Center for Creative Photography ©Roger Minick (1979).
Longer Ways to Go is organized by Phoenix Art Museum and the Center for Creative Photography.
This exhibition is generously sponsored by INFOCUS, the Photography Support Organization of Phoenix Art Museum.
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Exhibition Page: Charles Harbutt, Hand on Steering Wheel, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1971. Collection Center for Creative Photography © Charles Harbutt. All rights reserved.
Left: Joel Meyerowitz, Red Interior, Provincetown, Massachusetts, 1977. Collection Center for Creative Photography © Joel Meyerowitz.
Right: Thomas Barrow, untitled from the series In the Garden (detail), 1963. Collection Center for Creative Photography © Thomas Barrow.