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EAC presents photographic display of historic Route 66

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EAC presents photographic display of historic Route 66

By Todd Haynie

THATCHER, AZ—In just eight days, Oregon photographer Michael Campanelli traveled from Santa Monica, California to Chicago along the 2,500 mile stretch of Route 66. With his 35 mm Pentax camera, he took over 1,100 photos of relics, dilapidated buildings, ghost towns, and old signage along this historic highway.

Sixteen 20x30 prints of various facets of the former highway are now on display at Eastern Arizona College’s Gherald L. Hoopes Jr. Activities Center lobby. Over 100 other prints of his journey are also on display at Tucumcari, New Mexico at the Payless Inn. The collection was also recently shown at Reno, Nevada’s Hot August Nights event.

“This truly is a unique collection of Route 66 photographs on display at EAC,” said Jeb Earl, EAC graphic design professor and art department chair. “We hope many people will stop by and share in Mr. Campanelli’s ability to capture the nostalgia of the highway and era.”

Campanelli hadn’t much interest in Route 66 before he began his quest of capturing it on film. “I didn’t realize the history of Route 66. I was just taking pictures.” A house painter by trade, Campanelli has had a camera in his hand for over 30 years. He estimates that he has about 50,000 photographs at his house, mainly of family, sunsets, and landscapes of the Oregon coast.

A traveler by nature, in February of 2002, he was headed to Michigan to visit family and friends. He took a detour to Santa Monica to “begin” the trip. As he traveled the now-decommissioned highway, he says he took every exit along the way, looking for fascinating aspects to shoot, sometimes backtracking to not miss anything.

“It became a Route 66 photo journey,” says Campanelli. “I was driving day and night, always looking for something to capture.”

“I want people to realize that they can get off the interstate and see these places and meet interesting people, the diners, motels, and mom and pop cafés,” says Campanelli. “You show people a friendly side and they will respond.”

The show is on display in the lobby of the College’s Activities Center through January 2007 and is open to the public; admission is free. For more information about Michael Campanelli and his photographic journey, visit his website at ###