Road Trip: Bad Art in Motels

On my 2005 Lincoln Highway trip, I was careful to photograph the art hanging in each of my motel rooms. Mrs. G and I tried to get the true flavor of the road by staying in locally owned motor courts. In Geneva, IL, an Indian family ran a trucker motel from the 1960s, complete with blue vinyl furniture in the office. A Vietnam Vet owned the Fort Wayne, IN motel where we paid $36  for our room. The mattresses had plastic covers and the traffic upstairs continued all night. We splurged $75 the next night for a Best Western in Wooster, OH to recover. And so forth.

Art from a $36/night motel in Ft Wayne, IN. The picture is blurry because I had to get out of there.

Motel operator horror vacui must compel the profession to fill that spot above the bed. There is always something in that spot, part of the formula in creating the home away from home. I assume it’s part of the hotelier creed, and that there is a tabbed section in their catalogs  with preframed prints to slap on the walls. Instant ambiance.

A sampling  of the mass-produced floral and landscape art meant to evoke a vague sense of place, found in motels of the Midwest.

$79/night gets you some partridge. Wooster OH Best Western, 2005.

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.