A nostalgic tour of Highway 89 through the lens of John Telford

Posted Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 7:55pm

USU-CEU Art Department is presenting, People, Places and Things Along US-89, a Utah Arts Council’s Traveling Exhibition, featuring a series of black and white photographs. This exhibition highlights the unique, unusual and extraordinary things found along this historic highway and will exhibited at Gallery East from Oct. 4 through Nov. 4.

These 30, remarkable black & white images were selected from the larger collection of 60 photographs in John Telford’s 503-mile photo tour of US Highway 89 in Utah. US-89 is one of the country’s oldest and longest North-South running highways, stretching from Canada to Mexico. Of the 503 miles of US-89 that wind through Utah, most are in rural areas, and hundreds of miles in Sanpete, Garfield and Kane counties have been designated as a “Heritage Highway” by Congress. As a result, the number of McDonalds, Wendy’s or Burger Kings found on the highway can be counted on one hand; however, locally owned restaurants and drive-ins are found in every community.

The circuitous path it follows, from Garden City in the north to Kanab and Big Water in the south, moves slowly from town to town, village to village, passing homes and businesses that are local, historic and indigenous to the culture that surround this highway.

The highway passes the historic homes of internationally famous painter Maynard Dixon, sculptor Avard Fairbanks and outlaw Butch Cassidy. The prints in this exhibition tell their stories. The show also includes travel essays by Utah writers.

“It is a celebration of what is unique, unusual, extraordinary and positive along this country highway,” says Telford of this exhibit. “These are people that are grounded by their history, their environment, and their beliefs.” The photos are a unique record of Utah’s heartland and the lives of those who inhabit this remarkable stretch of highway.

Gallery East director, Noel Carmack, observes that, although this group of photographs visually documents other areas of Utah, the people and places are not unlike those found in Carbon and Emery counties. “These are the same kind of friendly, hard-working people found here in our communities. We hope that visitors to Gallery East will see these photographs and see reflections of themselves in the images.”

Telford is a native of Utah and has been taking photographs of the landscape and the people for more than 35 years. His work has been widely published with more than 50-magazine-cover photographs.

His photos have also been exhibited nationally and internationally. He has been included in more than 60-solo and -group shows. He holds a master’s of fine arts from the University of Utah and is a professor at Brigham Young University. An opening reception for the exhibit will be on Friday, Oct. 8, from 7-9 p.m. The gallery is free and open to the public during the academic year.

Its hours are Mondays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Friday through Sunday.

Contact Carmack at 435-613-5241 or by e-mail at [email protected] for additional information.

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