Artist of the Month:
As a photo and video artist, John Oakes focuses his attention on the kitschy and consumer oriented aspects of American culture. His work frequently utilizes Pop Art sensibilities while looking at these distinctly American objects and behaviors.
John Oakes is currently working on a longterm and ongoing photo project, Roadside Attractions. The project is focused on the attention getting objects of the American highway. Giant fiberglass people, animals, and other oddities are the subject of this series.
These are objects we have all seen, and maybe even photographed, but few stop to really look at them and consider what they truly represent. Many are remnants of a bygone era, these objects represent a form of marketing once embraced by a wide variety of businesses and communities. Anything from gas stations, grocery stores, souvenir shops, restaurants, and small towns. These marketing objects stood tall drawing in customers and visitors. A kitschy and fun way to attract the foot traffic needed to sustain the businesses and communities around them. Most of these figures are still serving in the same role for which they were designed, often for different businesses and towns, but still attracting attention. Many are now standing in front of their third or forth business. Today, in addition to attracting attention for a special group of businesses, these figures serve as artifacts from a past economy that was centered around small businesses on Main Street. These are distinctly American, and are a unique part of our history.