The Robert Koch Gallery is pleased to present Steve Fitch: Diesels & Dinosaurs and Western Landmarks, featuring selections from Fitch’s landmark photographic homage to the American highway, and roadside attractions that punctuate the journey. Well-known for his anthropological studies of the American West, American Fables features selections from his acclaimed 1970s series Diesels and Dinosaurs, augmented by color photographs from Western Landmarks, photographed in the 80s and 90s. This will be Fitch’s first exhibition at the Robert Koch Gallery.
After graduating with a degree in anthropology from UC Berkeley, Fitch began taking road trips to photograph what he refers to as “the vernacular of the journey,” capturing the spirit of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and celebrating the cultural landscape of the two-lane highway. Acting as a visual anthropologist who uses photography to collect material, Fitch photographed pre-franchise neon motel signs, big rig trucks, truck-stop waitresses, and quirky roadside attractions like snake pits and dinosaur parks, re-creating his childhood experience of road trips in the family Buick. Though he wasn’t aware of it at the time, Fitch was drawn to particular aspects of Americana on the verge of extinction, like mom-and-pop motels and drive-in theaters, anachronisms in today’s culture of air travel and multilane interstates.
Steve Fitch earned a BA from UC Berkeley in 1971, and an MFA from the University New Mexico in 1978, and has taught photography at UC Berkeley, the University of Colorado in Boulder, Princeton University, and since 1990, at the College of Santa Fe. He is the recipient of three NEA Fellowships, and his widely exhibited photographs are in such permanent collections as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others. Fitch’s monographs are Diesels and Dinosaurs (1976), Marks in Place: Contemporary Responses to Rock Art (1988), Gone: Photographs of Abandonment on the High Plains (2003), Llano Estacado: Island in the Sky (2011), and Motel Signs (2011).