Tom Mallonee
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Evidence of Passing 
Vanishing Points Along an American Road



What of architectural beauty I now see, I know has gradually grown from within outward, out of the necessities and character of the indweller… - Thoreau

    John Steinbeck’s Mother Road has quietly become a shriveling umbilical cord to our American past, and though the popular iconography of recent years has appealed to an understandable nostalgia for the Route 66 myth, this wasn't the attraction for me. The real lure was a literal road to understanding the early Fifties post-war culture into which many of us were born.

    Although the landscape of U.S. Route 66 attracted me aesthetically, a reverence for the structures along the bypassed sections enforced a responsibility to document -  simply and clearly - what was evaporating from the American culture. Indeed many of these places have already vanished. What does remain are the travelers’ hopes, fears, and conversations. They seem to actually linger in the air.

    These images were made from 1992 through 2006. During those fourteen years and long road trips I learned that the straightforward and grounded points of view were to become the more complex, timeless and revealing.

    The shoulders of Route 66 are littered with relics standing in silent attendance to the old road, and they speak to us about our lives: Our relationship with the land, the notions of freedom and mobility in our culture, and our mortality – personally, culturally, and even as a species. The cafes, filling stations, and motor courts have gathered the evidence and stories of all those who have passed. 

Tom Mallonee
Bishop, California



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