Motel, Air Conditioned, TV, Swimming Pool: These words, lit up in glowing neon, welcomed a generation of Americans to a good night’s rest just off the two-lane highway. I was one of those kids happy to tumble out of the station wagon and into the pool. In 1956 my family moved from Cedar Rapids, IA to Albuquerque, NM. This was where I became aware of the world and my first memories were created.
Route 66, Central Avenue in Albuquerque, was the gateway to the city. At night it was a kaleidoscope of neon motel signs welcoming motorists with a riot of animated color and light. Evocative names like The Tewa Lodge, The El Don, The Aztec Motel and The Desert Sands Motel, beckoned weary travelers on a western adventure. In the 1950’s heyday of these places I was a wide-eyed kid with an imagination fueled by John Wayne westerns and curio shop rubber tomahawks.
In 1962 we moved to Roswell, NM. I loved Roswell, but our stay there was to be just a brief few years: 1962 - 1965
By the time I was twelve I had attended four different elementary schools, motored coast to coast, seen a big swath of America via two lane highways and stayed in lots of motels. For over twenty years of my adult life I had jobs that involved extensive travel. I’ve slept in motel or hotel rooms in most of the lower 48 states.
As the corporate homogenization of our commercial landscape continues relentlessly, vernacular roadside oases are fast becoming an endangered species. These paintings help to preserve an important part of our American cultural history.