Alibi V.12 No.50 • Dec 11-17, 2003 

Art Article

American Route 66: Home on the Road

Jane Bernard and Polly Brown
Museum of New Mexico Press
hardcover
$45

I love the cover: a photograph by Bernard of Arizona's "Miss Historic Route 66 Beauty Queen." Even with the tiara and royal, fur-lined cape, she looks noticeably distraught, probably because the ribbon she's clutching in her hand isn't blue. The queen stands next to two red convertibles, the U.S. and Arizona flags flapping in the background against a deep blue sky.

The photo somehow captures much of the kitsch and allure of Route 66, which extends from Chicago to Los Angeles and runs right smack through the middle of our fine city.

For three years, Bernard and Brown traveled that highway—to, from and through hell—cameras in hand, collecting images of people and places. Of the three photography books covered here, this one's the most human, and also, by necessity, the most quirky and eccentric. Albuquerque can claim a few prominent entries from our famous Route 66 Diner, the Aztec Motel and the State Fair. The rest of the book is just as interesting with its endless parade of neon, parades and diners.

Route 66—as every long-time Albuquerquean knows—is a magic, mythical road. If you don't have a spare month to take your Harley out on the highway, the next best thing is to get your hands on this book.