There’s a lot of time to think, imagine, let one’s mind wander in various directions—while presumably keeping one’s eyes on the road—during the 12-hour drive between Aspen and Los Angeles. That’s how Richard Carter—artist, commercial production designer, and painter of natural phenomena like icebergs, lightning, ocean, fire, and the night sky—took up swiftly shooting touchstones of the flat California-to- Nevada-to-Utah drive, then the mountainous one to Colorado. The result is an out-of-character project for him, aptly named Road Show, which will display an assortment of his photos. As a sneak preview, he featured one image as part of the Aspen Art Museum’s 2011 Roaring Fork Open. The image, titled 114, I-70, Utah, was captured during that 12-hour trek. And all the while, Carter was accompanied by his trusty Jack Russell, the star of his photo series Dog of the Day. “The reason I always drive,” Carter explains, “is because my dog doesn’t like flying.”
The photo series becomes all the more interesting when you know that Carter never stopped driving. Every frame was shot with the iPhone Hipstamatic app while passing familiar terrain and sky as he made his way between his home in Santa Monica and his home and studio in Basalt, where he has served on the boards of the Aspen Art Museum and Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Carter’s paintings have been shown at Frank Pictures and the Santa Monica Museum of Art, both art institutions on LA’s Westside, and at the David Floria Gallery here in Aspen. But photography has not been his primary milieu; this group of snapshots represents his first outing as an art photographer.
“My favorite photographer is Gary Winogrand,” Carter explains over lunch at Ray’s & Stark Bar on the grounds of LACMA in LA. “I like the more informal approach. I’ve been shooting pictures for more than 20 years. I wanted to document the drive between my two homes in a photographic essay and started in March. Sometimes I was driving 85 miles an hour while shooting some of these. I shot about 500 photos to get the right ones. They’ll be shown in chronological order.” The photos include shots taken in his rearview mirror, plus pictures of a small twister, the Utah clouds, a sandstorm, and shots he took when leaving Downtown LA.
Why exhibit photos shot with an iPhone? “I shot with a Canon in Egypt,” Carter says. “Then I shot the same compositions with the iPhone. The iPhone pics were the better pictures! The filtration on it intensifies the color. Not only that, art is crossing over with technology, and this is my way of incorporating that.” All the photographs were taken without having an accident or getting a single traffic ticket. “It’s not exactly safe, I’ll give you that,” Carter laughs. “A year ago, if you’d told me I’d do a series of photographs with an iPhone that I would show, I would have said, ‘Absolutely no way.’” But as an artist named Bob Dylan said famously, “The times, they are a-changin’.”