Signs in front of highway tavern. Crystal City, Texas by Russell Lee 8"x10" ($35) | 11"x14" ($75) | 16"x20" ($260) | 20"x24" ($650) | 30"x40" ($1800) | 40"x50" ($2500)
Happy summer, weary travelers! Our newest Vintage Edition is an ode to the open road from the legendary American photographer Russell Lee. Signs in front of a highway tavern. Crystal City, Texas is your one-stop shop for vintage Americana, phenomenal photojournalism, and an ice cold beer. So hop in, let’s drive!
Shot in 1939, Signs displays Lee’s signature “straight” photography style, emphasizing camera technology and the ability to capture an image with unparalleled and unmanipulated clarity and richness—a snapshot of a moment in life. Taken head on, Signs depicts a rush of roadside advertising in the heyday of American highways. From gassing up to guzzling down, this tavern’s got you covered from top to bottom.
Located in Crystal City, Texas, Signs focuses on an ad-packed pitstop just off US Route 83, a straight shot highway that bisects the country right down the middle. Extending almost 2,000 miles from the Canadian border in North Dakota to the Mexican border in Texas, you can bet your bottom dollar you’d be due for a Dr. Pepper right around there.
Lee honed his elemental form of documentary photography with the Farm Security Administration (FSA) alongside fellow phenoms Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans. In his own words, photography meant “the responsibility to express accurately and honestly those things that are a part of life.” And with post-war suburban living booming along with paved roads and highways, roadtripping was most definitely a part of life.
Oops, did we say was? Roadtripping IS life these days. Almost 40 million people hopped behind the wheel for Memorial Day weekend this year to kick off the summer season. So whether you hit the pavement in a ‘39 Packard or buzz along in a brand new EV, there’s never a more welcome sight than Signs in front of a highway tavern.