USA: Roadside Attractions of the Southwest—Fragments of a Cultural History

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    Navajo pictograph, painted on rock, probably of the Spanish expedition against the Navajo led by Antonio Narbona in 1805 (Canyon de Chelly, Arizona)

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    Spanish Colonial Graveyard (The Ruins of Mission San Jose de Tumacacori, Arizona)

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    Ruins of a Spanish Colonial Jesuit Mission (Mission San Jose de Tumacacori National Historic Park, Arizona)

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    Ancestral Pueblo Ruins, abandoned in the fifteenth century, with 1932 Protective Covering (Casagrande Ruins National Monument, Coolidge, Arizona)

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    Vacancy at Roy's (Route 66 at Amboy, California)

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    Your Future Starts Here (Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada)

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    Alien Territory (Truck stop and fireworks emporium at Amargosa, near a highly classified US Air Force base in southwest Nevada)

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    The Ruins of Time (Mining Ghost Town of Rhyolite, Nevada, near Death Valley, California)

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    Water & Power (Hoover Dam, on the Colorado River at the Arizona/Utah Border)

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    The End of the Line (Narrow Gauge Train of the Durango-Silverton Railroad arrives in Silverton, Colorado)

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    The Pyramids (Salt Works, Chula Vista, California)

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    Pharaonic Simulacrum (Las Vegas Strip, Nevada)

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    Tee Pee Number Three (Motel, Winslow, Arizona)

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    The Lineup (Tavern, Madrid, New Mexico)

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    Madame Butterfly's (Licensed Brothel, Crystal, Nevada)

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    House of Bad Dreams (Escalante, Arizona)

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    Repent Now (Assorted Vehicles at Salvation Mountain, near Niland, California)

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    San Geronimo de Taos (Mission Church of the Taos Pueblo, New Mexico)

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    Ora Pro Nobis (Crucifix surrounded by photos of those in need of divine succor, El Santuario de Chimayo, New Mexico)

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    San Francisco de Asis Mission Church (Rancho de Taos, New Mexico)

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    The Birds of Saint Francis (Rear ofSan Francisco de Asis Mission Church, Rancho de Taos, New Mexico)

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    Apocalypse Now (Las Vegas Strip, Nevada)

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    Signs of the Times (Downtown San Diego, California)

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    Decarceration (Empty Cell Block, Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay, California)

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    Barbed Wire Across the Slickrock (Near Escalante, Arizona)

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    The Border / La Frontera (Indigenous Mexican Couple selling toys and trinkets literally on the border line between San Ysidro, California, USA and Tijuana, Baja California del Norte, Mexico)

Unlike the images in the preceding portfolio, Ancestral Pueblo Ruins, those gathered here were not originally conceived of as parts of a cohesive project. Most were the fruit of serendipitous encounters and discoveries along the way of road trips that were focused elsewhere—primarily on hiking and landscape photography in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. But being at heart a photographer who is drawn to cultural subjects—to people and to the objects and places they have made—I did not want to miss the special opportunities for cultural photography that occasionally arose out of the spectacular natural landscape. These opportunities were special not only because the density of human settlement is lower in most of the southwest than in many other parts of the country and the world but also because a relatively high proportion of the human traces that can be encountered here are curiosities of one sort or another—often abandoned ruins or, if still thriving, the cultural products of human boldness and originality, eccentricity or excess. These photographs were made on various excursions between 2004 and 2016, and it was only retrospectively that I came to see them cohesively, as random fragments of a cultural history of those who have dwelled in this sometimes beautiful and sometimes forbidding landscape, shaping and exploiting it acording to their varying needs, fears and desires. The emphasis is on structures, signs and symbols, both sacred and profane, the enduring artifacts of the peoples and cultures that have inhabited these spaces in recent centuries, successors to those who made and dwelled in the ancestral pueblos. Hover over an image for specific information regarding the subject and location.