The landscape of New Mexico is simple, the towns are often small. Route 66 cuts across the high-desert sage plains of New Mexico connecting our country from Chicago to LA. Along the way, weathered old Herman’s Garage is part of that story.
In the decade before WWII, many families desperately traveled Route 66 with everything they owned. Their belongings were stacked high atop their old jalopies. Just like the Joads, portrayed by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath, they were escaping Oklahoma. The Dust Bowl of the 1930s had devastated their farms. They were headed to the promised land of California.
On an overcast winter day, I saw the promise of an artful photograph in this Route 66 gas station. Nostalgic gas pumps. A rusty old truck. The deteriorating adobe shed. The elements of the scene echoed similar patterns, faded colors, and flaking surfaces.
The word patina describes the intriguing surface of an object faded by sunlight, weather, and age. Modern hipsters now call it wabi sabi. This endearing term shows appreciation for the artistic beauty of austerity, impermanence, and decay. In a world of shiny new things, there’s a time-worn harmony in these old surfaces.
Herman’s Garage sits quietly in the small town of Thoreau, New Mexico.