Disco Star

by John Margolies

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Artist Statement

John Margolies, a photographer best known for his images of quirky roadside architecture, found himself on the Seaside Heights boardwalk in 1978. He walked around, capturing the various booths, rides, games, and with them, the golden feel of summer. The images he made that day are part of his Roadside America project, an archive of over 30 years of photographs. The stunning color in the photographs is partly due to Margolies’ use of slide film. Slide film lends a finer grain, richer colors, and more contrast than standard negative film.

This specific New Jersey boardwalk dates back to 1932, where it began with one carousel. Just five years later, it had expanded to include arcade games, concessions, a ballroom and a roller rink. Disco Star: Heartbreaker eventually joined the many rides on the pier, which had transformed from the home of a single ride to an amusement park destination. Called a Music Express ride, the Disco Star: Heartbreaker had a circular, undulating track, and remained a popular attraction until Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012. The storm destroyed the pier and many of its rides, including Disco Star. This is a bittersweet common denominator of a number of Margolies’ photographs—they were often the last image of a structure before it was torn drown or destroyed.

Details

+ Limited-edition, exclusive to 20x200
+ Museum quality: archival inks, 100% cotton rag paper unless noted
+ Certificate of authenticity signed and numbered by our head curator is included
+ Handcrafted custom-framing is available

Our quoted dimensions are for the size of paper containing the images, not the printed image itself. We do not alter the aspect ratio, nor do we crop or resize the artists’ originals. All of our prints have a minimum border of .5 inches to allow for framing.

Medium:

Innova Fibaprint Warm Cotton Gloss

Edition Structure:
10"x8" | edition of 20
14"x11" | edition of 200
20"x16" | edition of 50
30"x24" | edition of 5

John Margolies

Margolies was drawn to mid-century roadside architecture from a young age. On family car trips, these commercial structures designed to seduce weary travelers called to him even as his parents repeatedly refused to stop. Margolies took this boyhood unrequited love and turned it into a 30+ year photography career that took him all across America.In his travels, Margolies took more than 11,000 photographs of vernacular buildings across America’s criss-crossing network of highways, main streets, and back roads. Though many of his images involved the architecture that defined car travel—motels, diners, gas stations, and the like—he also photographed the purely American... Read More
quirk that lined the roads: buildings shaped like dinosaurs, a giant pair of dice on the mini-golf course, a gator-mouth entrance to a Florida theme park.This eccentric style came about as suburban living boomed post-World War II, necessitating the creation of more paved roads, and more ways to bring travelers into roadside businesses. New building materials and techniques had emerged, allowing for playfully eccentric free-form structures to pop up. Signs, artifacts, and buildings ranged from whimsical to psychedelic, their main purpose an elaborate enticement. As the style spread, critics derided it as “tacky”, “florid”, and “ugly”. Margolies strongly disagreed: in his mind, these ephemeral pieces better expressed the story of 20th century America than canonical works that didn’t reflect the everyday experience of the people who used them.It was this mindset that inspired Margolies to drive over 100,000 miles capturing a unique slice of American architecture and history, even as it faded. Much of what he photographed is now gone. A few times, he found out that he’d photographed a building mere days before it was demolished.His treasure trove of images has been turned into quite a few books, most notably Roadside America, featuring a curated set of around 400 photographs. It was published in 2010, six years before Margolies passed away of pneumonia at 76.
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