The long Thanksgiving weekend is upon us and many people will be hitting the roads. When laws were passed requiring gas stations to bury their tanks, many could not afford it and were forced to close. Over the years some of these have been left to decay and become overgrown. Others have been turned in to alternative businesses.
It can sometimes be difficult to find an open station when you travel back roads and secondary highways.
I’m stopping to document these stations on my travels because, like our barns, they are part of the American landscape. I started this project BEFORE I had seen the famous gas station photos by Ed Ruscha. I recently saw 4 of his photos at the Portland Art Museum. I tried to find a copy of the book and there was one, on E-Bay, for $17,000. not exactly in my budget…ever.
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Ruscha:“Twentysix Gasoline Stations is the first artist’s book by the American pop artist Ed Ruscha. Published in April 1963 on his own imprint National Excelsior Press, it is often considered to be the first modern Artist’s book, and has become famous as a precursor and a major influence on the emerging artist’s book culture, especially in America. The book does exactly what its title suggests, reproducing 26 photographs of gasoline stations next to captions indicating their brand and location. From the first service station, ‘Bob’s Service’ in Los Angeles where Ruscha lived, the book follows a journey back to Oklahoma City where the artist had grown up, and where his mother still resided. The last image is of a Fina Gasoline Station in Groom, Texas, which Ruscha has suggested should be seen as the beginning of the return journey, ‘like a coda’. “
I will continue making my photos until I have enough for a book, but I have no illusions of grandeur that I will ever achieve the success of an artist like Ruscha. I just like making the photos.