So often as I wander around America a Paul Simon tune will enter my brain. “All come to look for America”. Simon’s song really captures the wonder of seeing the USA — though not necessarily in a Chevrolet. That was the point of a special exhibit at the Crystal Bridges Art Museum that had the same affect on me.
The timeline for the exhibit is 1930 to the present:
Many wonderful photographers were included in the exhibition including: Robert Frank, Stephen Shore, Ralph Crane, William Eggleston, Joel Sternfeld, Todd Hido, Alec Soth , Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs. They relied on good roads, increased access to a can and advances in technology. For Americans its a new post WW II prosperity that fuels the growth of a middle class that has access to camera technology that has become as easy to use as our cellphones.
This exhibit captures all the travel I’ve pursued for the past umpteen years — although very honestly I’ve. practiced it with more earnest in the past four. Ah, road trips. Who doesn’t love a road trip. Whether it’s day trip down the Mississippi River heading to Winona, or heading to myriad national parks like Acadia, Yosemite or Yellowstone. Poet Walt Whitman’s quotation below captures the true spirit of the “Open Road”:
Whitman’s words capture the need to travel which resides in all of us–as we feel freed from the monotony of life. Monotony is replaced by the sheer joy and freedom of travel. I really think travel fuels my endorphins — I’m renewed each time I return home.
For our country the romance with automobiles has fueled the desire to hit the road for vacations, weekends or really anytime the spirit moves us. The following photo by Robert Crane represents the potential downside of travel — as with most things in life we are constantly deciding the direction we follow based on judging the “yin and yang”. Apparently everything comes down to choices:
The following sample of photos were taken by the featured photographers over a period of 70 years or so. Surely like me you are glad taking pictures remains a national craze for all of us–thanks to our phones, digital cameras and other similar devices:
Below are some of my favorite photos:
a photo of a teenager taken in 1960 by Inge Morath while she was in Nevada filming the Marilyn Monroe/Clark Gable film “The Misfits” (maybe I liked this one because I too worked in a grocerystore in the “60’s):
Besides exploring the virtues of travel each photograph reflects the power of good composition. Creating a good or great photo also require clean and perceptive editing. Most of these photos were edited by either photographer or an editor “back home”. Many an be seen in book, on calendars and on line.
Today the road trip remains alive and strong thanks to cheap gas and an increase in leisure time for retired baby boomers,young families and tourists from overseas.
“Michigan looks like a dream to me now”.
Thanks Paul for framing my dreams with your poetry.
“Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm…All come to look for America”.