What and Why

This idea came from a conversation with my Mother many years ago, 70’s, talking about the blue roads on the maps. The out of the way places not often seen by most Americans.  When we took family trips and Dad was asleep the car would find some out of the way place to go and from there I found my love of the highways.

I know that is not a unique thought, to travel around the US and listen and document us, but as each of us view the elephant we get a different vision.

Here are some relevant publishing of travels around America. I’m sure there are more and will add anything relevant if someone would like to add to this list.

Travels with Charley: In Search of America was a travelogue written by John Steinbeck. In it he writes about his 1960 road trip around the United States with his French standard poodle, Charley.  NOTE… ‘Travels With Charley’: now officially mostly fiction  is a study of what really happened in Steinbeck’s travels with Charley by Bill Steigerwald of the Post- Gazette, Pittsburg, PA.

Robert Frank took a look at us in 1955.  Born in Switzerland to a Jewish family that got safely thru WWII and he immigrated to the US in 1947.  He met Edward Steichen and was part of a MOMA show ’51 American Photographers’.  In 1955 with a grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation over 2 years Frank made many road trips around America and published the book ‘The Americans’.  Jack Kerouac wrote the introduction to the book.

In 1978 William Least Heat-Moon traveled 13,000 miles going from town to town along the blue lines of the map and published the book, ‘Blue Highways’. Stories of people he met along his way.

Dorothea Lange and the photographers of the FSA, Farm Security Administration.  From 1935 to 1939 Lange and the other photographers of the FSA documented the plight of the people touched by the great depression.  Images of the migrant farm workers, sharecroppers, out of work city folk and the general devastation of that era.  While most might not know her name one of the most recognizable images in the world is her ‘Migrant Mother’.

The latest work is Philip Caputo’s ‘The Longest Road: Overland in Search of American’.  A 16,000 mile journey Caputo, his wife, 2 dogs, pulling a trailer – no not the dogs – across America from the southern tip of Florida to Alaska and the Arctic Ocean during 2011.  His question: “How does the United States, peopled by every race on earth, remain united?”  This book to be released in July, 2013.

I have no illusions that I’m about to produce a collection of images to be held up to those that have gone before me.  I want to make my own collection of who we are right now, in this small sliver of timeline within America’s history.  Portraits of people, videos of what they think, small stories of ordinary lives being lived out across the land.  This is not a political statement or a judgment of good or bad nor waving the flag, just a peek into our homes, businesses, towns and minds of America right now.

References:

Robert Frank

Dorthea Lange

John Steinbeck

Philip Caputo

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