Tom Kelly’s 'Backroads Americana' Exhibit at Artique Takes You onto Rural Highways of the USA

As you’re whizzing through the countryside on I-80 at 75 mph, do you ever wonder what lies on the other side of the fence? Photographer Tom Kelly of Park City, Utah decided to do just that. His exploration of the rural highways of the USA is featured in a gallery show called Backroads Americana showing from October 5-28 at Artique in Kamas, Utah.

Kelly’s vision for the collection was to explore the past through the oft-forgotten rural roads that criss cross every county. His journey took him from the mountains and deserts of Utah, across the grasslands of Wyoming, the plains of South Dakota, cornfields of Minnesota and rolling farmland of his native Wisconsin.

The public is invited to an opening artist reception on Friday, October 5 from 6-8pm at Artique. Kelly is Artique’s featured artist for October with the show on display at Artique for the month, Thursdays through Sundays 11am - 6pm.

“Growing up in Wisconsin, we would take family drives on Sundays,” recalls Kelly. “It was a slower pace where you could absorb the buildings as you waited pensively for the next set of Burma Shave signs.”

The collection will be represented primarily in canvas prints and showcased by custom barnwood and metal frames from Kamas artist and longtime friend Walt Evans of Cowboy Camp. It will also feature a unique display of matted prints suspended from barbed wire, typical of scenes along rural roads.

Kelly’s vision going into the project ranged from old abandoned buildings to vintage cars and horses roaming the prairie. He has captured it all in a show that will bring back memories and hopefully get others to think about a different pace of travel.

One of the highlights of the show is its representation of the texture of the backroads from the detailed feel of rusted hinges on an old barn door to the feel of grasses blowing in the breeze as horses stand posing along a fenceline.

The centerpiece image is an abandoned Main Street along a rural highway in Wyoming. Amidst the vacant buildings and faded facades is a colorful painting of the famous Apache chief Geronimo.

“I spent hours on that Wyoming main street exploring tiny details of the buildings,” said Kelly. “As you explore you find these amazing stories, like this gorgeous painting the the faded words that accompanied it.”

The painting of Geronimo was made in 1979 on the former Gambles store in Shoshoni, Wyoming by artist Bart Vroman.

Backroads America is Kelly’s fourth annual show at Artique. Past have included last year’s Light, Land & Sky plus past show showcasing rural barns (his specialty), wildflowers and fall color in Utah.

Artique is a gallery on Main Street in Kamas, just 15 minutes from Park City, featuring only local artists from Summit County. The small boutique, which just celebrated its seventh anniversary, features ceramics, fiber art, painting, photography, jewelry, metal sculpture, and wood.

The gallery is presently showing hand knit pumpkins from Carole Duh at Do Dads for You, the featured artist for September. Pumpkins will be on display until Thanksgiving. The November featured artist will be Walt Evans of Cowboy Camp, showing his metal, leather and upcycled wood art. More information can be found here.

Tom KellyARTique