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Gallery Favorites: Steve Fitch's Vanishing Vernacular

photo-eye Gallery Gallery Favorites:
Steve Fitch's Vanishing Vernacular
Gallery Director Anne Kelly and Special Projects Coordinator Lucas Shaffer select their favorite images from Steve Fitch's Vanishing Vernacular.

Vanishing Vernacular monograph & corresponding exhibition at photo-eye Gallery.
Book signing with Steve Fitch, May 12th, 2–4 pm.

On  Friday, March 30th, photo-eye Gallery hosted a reception for represented artist Steve Fitch in honor of his exhibition Vanishing Vernacular and new monograph of the same title.

Our exhibition of Fitch’s images is extensive, spanning over 38 years of his career, and has prompted many enthusiastic viewers – lovers of photography, classic neon and Route 66 – to share their own road trip stories. The response has been fantastic. If you haven’t had a chance to view the exhibition yet we will be hosting a book signing on Saturday, May 12th, 2-4 pm, when Steve will be signing copies of his new book, Vanishing Vernacular: Western Landscapes, as well as a few earlier titles, such as American Motel Signs and Gone. We hope you can join us.

After the exhibition opening, new Gallery Associate Yoana Medrano shared her favorite image from Vanishing Vernacular, introduced herself and told us what made the image special. Having had time to live with the exhibition, Lucas Shaffer and I are pleased to share our selections, as well.

–Anne Kelly, Gallery Director

Anne Kelly Selects
Greyhound Motel, Tucson, Arizona; December 30, 1980 

Greyhound Motel, Tucson, Arizona; December 30, 1980, 16x20" Archival Pigment Print, Edition of 12, $2,000 
 © Steve Fitch
There are so many wonderful photographs in our Steve Fitch exhibition that it is hard to pick just one! So in an attempt to do so, as usual, I defer to my intuition. I love all of the bright, bold, neon motel signs and drive-in theaters, but the image that is grabbing me during Vanishing Vernacular is a little quieter.

Shot on the side of one of the motels, or so I assume, is a row of carefully manicured cacti that are slightly illuminated by a single green neon tube and framed by the motel wall. Based on the color of the sky, the sun set perhaps about an hour earlier but the moon has yet to rise. For me, this image brings back memories of being on the road and pulling up at little motels like this one and experiencing a quiet, private moment at the end of a day's journey.

Lucas Shaffer Selects 
Radio Tower Near Sudan, Texas; October 18, 2010

Radio Tower Near Sudan, Texas; October 18, 2010, 16x20" Archival Pigment Print, Edition of 12, $2,000 
 © Steve Fitch

Radio Tower Near Sudan, Texas; October 18, 2010 focuses on one of Fitch's later topographical fascinations, the titular radio tower, and is among my favorite images by the photographer. Growing up in a rural midwestern town, I used to adore watching the red flashing warning beacons affixed to a  trio of radio towers float over wide open fields as my family drove by. The effect was most impressive as the sun set. The tower's skeletal structure receded into the sky, leaving the pulsing lights to hover above the ground, seeming to fluctuate in their size and shape as we turned corners or pulled close. Watching those beacons was delightful. 

Of course, what I'm describing is nostalgia. But, what I think is so compelling and fascinating about Fitch's work is how he creates relatability through straight, descriptive, and democratic images Рeven when they have a perfect jewel-toned ombr̩ sky as a backdrop. Fitch doesn't set out to make nostalgic images, he photographs subjects he finds interesting during his highway travels, and yet, his images often reference our own stories. The connection to my own experience is what draws me to Radio Tower Near Sudan, Texas; October 18, 2010, and what I see as the power behind this body of work.

Vanishing Vernacular is on view at photo-eye Gallery through Saturday, May 19th, 2018.

For more information on Steve Fitch, or to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at 505-988-5152 x 202 or at

Print prices are subject to change as the edition sells and were current at the time this post was published.

» View Vanishing Vernacular

» Purchase a copy of the monograph

» Attend the May 12th Book Signing Event