Kopeikin Gallery is pleased to announce our third exhibition with photographer Steve Fitch titled Vanishing Vernacular coinciding with the publication of his book of the same title published by George F. Thompson. The exhibition will open on Saturday, July 14th with a reception for the artist and book signing from 6:00 – 8:00 pm and continuing through August 25th.
Steve Fitch is among America’s most well-known chroniclers of the American West and has been photographing its changing vernacular landscape and vanishing roadside landmarks for more than 40 years. In his new book, Vanishing Vernacular, Fitch displays both the ancient and the modern by way of roadside signage, drive-in movie theater screens and radio towers, most of which are now endangered due to the advent of the Interstate Highway System and corporate franchises.
“To me, neon really figured in the migration movement on Route 66. The farther you go out West, the more neon you’d see, especially as a presence on motels. You can see towns like Tucumcari, New Mexico, coming from 20 miles away.”
A contemporary of Richard Misrach and Roger Minick, Fitch graduated with both from the University of California at Berkeley in 1971 where he began a project photographing the vernacular roadside of the American highway. The series received two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in 1973 and the second in 1975 and the photographs were published in the monograph, “Diesels and Dinosaurs,” in 1976.
In 1981, as a member of the "Marks and Measures" project, he began photographing prehistoric Native American pictograph and petroglyph sites in the American west. This project was published in a monograph, Marks in Place: Contemporary Responses to Rock Art, by the University of New Mexico Press in 1988.
Fitch returned to New Mexico in 1991 and began photographing the ongoing abandonment of the high Great Plains. He received the Eliot Porter Fellowship from the New Mexico Council for Photography in 1999 and in 2003 a book of these photographs entitled Gone: Photographs of Abandonment on the High Plains was published by the University of New Mexico Press along with a traveling exhibition. The entire exhibition of forty photographs was purchased by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. In addition, Steve Fitch recently sold 83 photographs to the Beinecke Library at Yale University, many of which are in this show.