Vanishing Vernacular: Western Landmarks by Steve Fitch
Concluding essay by Toby Jurovics
- 172 pages with 130 photographs by the author, including 2 gatefolds and 127 in color and 3 in black-and-white
- 10.0" x 11.875"
- Published April 2018
Steve Fitch is among America's most well-known chroniclers of the American West who has been photographing the West's changing vernacular landscape and its vanishing roadside landmarks for more than 45 years. In his new book, Fitch presents both the ancient and modern West by way of photographing petroglyphs, neon motel signs, hand-painted business signs, drive-in movie theaters, and radio towers—all vanishing landmarks. They are now endangered because of the advent of the Interstate Highway System and its corporate franchises that have eclipsed travel and small businesses along historic U.S. highways such as Route 66.
In this fascinating and comprehensive account, we join in Fitch's expansive journey, beginning in the 1970s and the days of Easy Rider and ending in the present age. His quest is truly an odyssey of epic proportions and the book's 130 unforgettable photographs are deliberately sequenced to mimic the experience of the open road—during both day and night. Fitch explains how he developed the project in his informative introduction, in which, interestingly, he suggests that the petroglyphs of the ancient Pueblo people have endured far better and longer than anything made during the last sixty years. Curator Toby Jurovics, in his insightful concluding essay, reveals Fitch's own view of photography as a visual form of cultural anthropology and positions Fitch's work in relation to that of Robert Adams, Joe Deal, Frank Gohlke, Stephen Shore, and other practitioners of the photographic style known as the "New Topographics."
Vanishing Vernacular: Western Landmarks is sure to become a modern-day classic, a book that will be all the more revered as America and Americans move farther away from the U.S. highways of the past. That historic roadside economy and its vernacular culture and architecture are vanishing like endangered species, but, thankfully, Steve Fitch was along for the long ride. In sharing that past, he has created his own kind of preservation by saving the West's iconic landmarks of the open road through his photography.
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