ARROW MARQUEE SIGNS
My artistic practice sends me across New Mexico’s highways, byways, and rural roads. As I traveled throughout the state I noticed an unusual amount of arrow marquee signs along the road. I began to obsessively photograph every single one I could find, sometimes spending an hour on a mile long stretch of road in cities like Farmington and Tucumcari where arrow marquees stand outside nearly very business. These signs are a product of how the automobile transformed roadside advertising. In his book Main Street to Miracle Mile: American Roadside Architecture, Chester H. Liebs writes, “… All wayside entrepreneurs faced the same formidable commercial challenge: selling to customers enclosed in fast paced vehicles. A roadside merchant not only had to grab the attention of the speeding motorist in a very short period of time, but also to prompt the critical decision to stop and purchase.”
As I continued to accumulate photographs of these signs, I observed how they exist in a wide spectrum of locations and stages of age and use. Some are still being used to advertise, some signs promote outdated specials or businesses that are now closed, some signs have lost so many letters that the occasional viewer is left to guess what it used to say, and others are completely empty.
While at first glance these signs seem utilitarian and perhaps even kitsch, considered together, they pay homage to visual and historical narratives found even in the commonplace, and our ever-changing perception of place and the landscape.