Road trips don’t have to span hundreds of miles. As the traveling season approaches, Tohono Chul Park has created a vacation-themed art exhibit that celebrates the magic and discovery of summer vacations.
“Hit the Road,” which includes 53 photography, sculptures and mixed media pieces, is on display at 7366 N. Paseo del Norte. The exhibit started May 2 and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m through Aug. 3.
Martha Retallick, who works as a freelance copywriter, photographer and designer, has a photo collage dubbed “Ghost Truck Road Trip” in the exhibit. She collected the photos along a 12-year, 15,000-mile effort to ride her bicycle in all 50 states.
The collage includes a shot of a vintage Chevrolet truck she took in 1981 along with a 1988 picture of a remote road in western New Mexico.
Retallick, 56, is excited to display the piece, which is the first she’s ever shown in a gallery. She was inspired by reactions she received when she showed it to others.
“People especially liked the vintage truck,” she said. “I’ve been trying to grow as a photographer over the last several years.”
She said she wanted to capture the passion and sense of discovery of her bicycle voyage.
“I was trying to evoke the road,” she said. “This is a big, vast country, and you do not really understand how vast it is until you are actually in it, going real slow. Then you understand quickly how huge it is out there. I was trying to convey that big-country feel in my photos.”
Edie Wageman, Tohono Chul’s assistant curator pf exhibitions, said such artistic intent was just what park management had in mind for the exhibit.
“When we were coming up with a summer exhibit, we wanted to think a little bit more about summer vacation, traveling and the way the West was formed through traveling,” Wageman said.
“There are all kinds of juxtapositions you find on the road, with greasy spoons, open road landscapes and vast expanses. It’s really about the summer vacation culture and what we think of as we travel.”
Wageman said the show has proven popular with visitors.
“One thing that’s interesting about the exhibit is there are a variety of things people are drawn to,” she said.
“It really depends on their preferences. There are some really funny kitsch elements, and then there’s a striking painting. I think it depends on the viewer and what they are drawn to. I think what’s happening is a lot of people are seeing portraits of old cars and freeway signs, and those are bringing up stories to tell each other. It’s kind of a memory-driven experience.”