New York to Route 66 to the West: A Pictorial History

Paul Calendrillo New York

May. 31, 2024 - Jun. 29, 2018

547 West 27th St., Suite 600
New York, 10001
PHONE 908.875.0149

Growing up in France, my first interest with the image world was looking through magazines that were hanging everywhere in our small flat, magazines like: L’Ecran, Cinémonde, Life and Vogue, and by watching the black and white TV with all the American movies. This is when I discovered the American west with John Ford movies filmed in Monument Valley and other places in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Everything looked so big. Also, the I loved the television series that made me travel to America, The Little House in the Prairie, Bonanza, Route 66, Wanted Dead or Alive and Daniel Boone.

Later on, I discovered still photography and very rapidly fell in love with this art. Photographers like, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, or Helmut Newton and the American, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange or Annie Leibovitz made me want to become a photographer. But my all-time inspirational photographers, whom I appreciate without trying to copy, are artists like Robert Doisneau , Ansel Adams, Edward S. Curtis. American writer, John Steinbeck with The Grapes of Wrath, Jack London with his novels about the gold rush, describing the life of the people during the gold rush and James Albert Michener and his great books; Alaska, Texas and The People and the Land also motivated me to travel all over the US.

New York, the Big, Apple, the city that never sleeps, with its high skyscrapers and its distinctive boroughs, is a great source of inspiration. While walking year round, no matter the season or weather, I always think of what I use to imagine about this “world symbol” before coming here for the first time. Being here I remembered back to my childhood in front of my French TV where I dreamt of taking pictures like Robert Doisneau who photographed Paris.

Two thousand four hundered and eighty-eight miles of getting my kicks on Route 66 from Chicago to L.A. Going through eight states across America was certainly the best way to travel into the past. From prohibition in Chicago, the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma and during the Great Depression and the migration of farmers who traveled with all their goods to the promise land of California for a better life and to seek jobs, land, dignity, and a future, and along the Main Streets of America, I was able to live and enjoy beautiful historical buildings, diners and old rusty cars from the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was a journey that at times made me believed that I was living in another time. The west is the immense. The great plains with their bison’s, the Mojavi Desert in California, the big National Park, the coast or the great Rockies Mountains are dream places for me–land that I discovered first with Ansel Adams and Edward S. Curtis, long before I came to America, like Monument Valley with the sound of the wind and the hot sun caressing my face, and the limitless view that can let one’s imagination travel and sometime make me wish that I could have been born here and lived a “western life”.

With my photograph’s, I try to reflect what I see, but also what I smell and feel. I hope people will see what I see, but as Ansel Adams said,: “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”

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