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Smithsonian Shows Fitch, Flick, Mayes Landscapes Tweet This   Forward This

30 July 2013

The Smithsonian American Art Museum's exhibit Landscapes In Passing features the work of three photographers who separately photographed the American landscape 40 years ago.

In fact, what Robbert Flick, Steve Fitch and Elaine Mayes had in common as they photographed the country between 1971 and 1980 was the road.

Flick looked at Los Angeles from the street, piecing together fleeting views of the city in multiple image prints. Fitch shot roadside attractions as he took his family on road strips from Northern California to South Dakota to visit relatives. And in 1971 Mayes drove from San Francisco to Massachusetts, sometimes shooting without bothering to use the viewfinder.

In her story on the exhibit, PBS NewsHour correspondent Cindy Huang quotes curator Lis Hostetler, "They're taking off the rose-colored glasses and looking at the reality of the road."

But the work goes further than simply challenging "the idyllic portrayal of the American landscape that had persisted into the 20th century, notably in photographs by Ansel Adams." Hostetler told Huang:

The exhibit shows how photography is a malleable medium. It's all about who's behind the camera and how they see the world. Reality is observed by individuals with visual proclivities and different things to say.

The exhibit opened July 26 and runs through Jan. 20, 2014. A free panel discussion with Fitch, Flick and Mayes will be held Sept. 12. And a 48-image slide show is available on the Smithsonian Web site.

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