The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Sat. Nov 15, 2003

Our Founding Father of Road Trips

Our Founding Father of Road Trips – That would be Charles Cushman: ”For thirty years, Charles Cushman documented a dying landscape in living color.

For here, framed through the lens of his Contax IIA camera, saturated in almost embarrassingly vivid colors, springs to life a world that we had long since resigned ourselves to viewing only in shades of gray. The America that we thought we knew, whether through the self-conscious artistic starkness of the images of Berenice Abbott and Walker Evans or through the polished middle-brow poses of Look and Life, is revealed as being but the shadow of a world no less full and tangible than our own. In Cushman’s work the past becomes, for an instant, impossibly present.

...the two elements that would combine to create the visual legacy documented on this web site: Kodachrome film and late-model cars. The pattern set by those first drives of 1938 and 1939, and by his nearer-to-home early explorations of the neighborhoods of Chicago, both of them documented courtesy of Kodak’s newly available color slide film, would provide Cushman with a basic method of operating that lasted nearly until his death.

Kodachrome film and late-model cars” were a potent combination. The web site has 14,000 images shot by Cushman over the course of thirty years crisscrossing this nation. There’s over a hundred pictures of New York, from 1941 to 1960. Some are absolute classics, like this shot of McSorley’s Old Ale House, once (still?) on E. 7th St. Closer to home there’s a lovely shot of a rainy night on Peachtree Street in 1951.

I bet you can find something from close to your home, too. Cushman was a most prolific photographer.

Peanut Gallery

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