I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the press preview on Thursday for the new exhibition “Ed Ruscha and the Great American West,” which opens today and runs through October 9th at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.
Ed Ruscha has long been a hero of mine. With my own photography focusing on the American Road and my background growing up in Los Angeles, so much of Ruscha’s work has always rung true to me personally and I’ve felt a certain sort of affinity with it. Gas stations, neon signs, old swimming pools, and the images of a uniquely American experience, fill the current Ruscha exhibition. Mixed in with these beautiful, nostalgic and iconic images are the words that further explain this modern life: “Honey . . . . I Twisted Through More Damned Traffic to Get Here,” “God Knows Where,” “Slobberin Drunk at the Palomino” I remember back in high school or was it college once watching X, or maybe the Blasters or the Knitters perform back at North Hollywood’s Palomino, my memory is hazy and alcohol likely was involved.
“In 1956, at the age of 18, Ed Ruscha left his home in Oklahoma and drove a 1950 Ford sedan to Los Angeles, where he hoped to attend art school. His trip roughly followed the fabled Route 66 through the Southwest, which featured many of the sights—auto repair shops, billboards, and long stretches of roadway punctuated by telephone poles—that would provide him with artistic subjects for decades to come.” This may be all the inducement you need to read to get you to this show.
Here are 15 photographs that I took on Thursday at the new exhibit representing my own interpretation.