Atlanta holds Route 66 contest to push tourism

 Daily, Illinois  Comments Off on Atlanta holds Route 66 contest to push tourism
Dec 282012

I spoke with Bill Thomas and he mentioned to me if anyone wantes to do this (which I am!) – should use ‘outdoor paint’ on these signs as they will – obviously – be displayed outside. I will let you know when I receive mine!

ATLANTA — As a member of the Atlanta Betterment Fund, businessman Bill Thomas is a firm believer in holding brainstorming sessions and discussing ideas that could generate positive feedback for the Logan County community.

And almost always, Thomas said, the town’s connection to Route 66 tends to be the focus.

“We often take an idea, incorporate other ideas from projects that have worked either here or someplace else, and come up with a plan,” Thomas said.

The newest plan is based on Chicago’s “Cows on Parade” exhibit, a 1999 idea in which local artists, architects, photographers and designers painted, decorated and dressed up fiberglass cow statues and then displayed them around the city for several months.

The first Route 66 Reinterpreted” project will encourage artists to create their own take on the U.S. Route 66 Highway Shield. Each will be provided a blank 2- by 2-foot wooden cutout of the shield, painted white, which will become their personal canvas.

The only requirement is to incorporate the text “Illinois U.S. 66” somewhere on the face of the shield. The signs will be put on permanent display along the route.

“It is just a great way to get people to visit our town and see something different,” said Atlanta resident Dale Colaw, a member of the Atlanta Betterment Fund board of directors. “It reminds me of the old Burma Shave signs we had out near the entrances to town which we had local artists do, but now those are so damaged and they don’t resemble what they once were.”

The project is open to anyone over age 16 and Thomas said up to 50 entries will be accepted. All entries will be displayed along Route 66 in downtown Atlanta from May through Aug. 31.

“This is a great way to bring national attention to Route 66,” said Geoff Ladd, President of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. “Stay tuned for this because once it is done, there will be big celebration and we will have some beautiful art to showcase when we do.”

The Atlanta Betterment Fund board will select 10 shields as finalists and the public can vote at selected Route 66 attractions or at Five winning shields, along with the names of the artists who created them, will be displayed permanently in the Atlanta Route 66 Park.

Completed applications, including a $25 entry fee, are due Feb. 1. More information is at

Kevin Barlow –

One-of-a-kind art to become a Route 66 stop

 Daily, Illinois  Comments Off on One-of-a-kind art to become a Route 66 stop
Aug 302012

The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce is purchasing a one-of-a-kind piece of folk art for a future roadside attraction that will greet Route 66 travelers visiting Wilmington.

The Chamber is working with the city to purchase and place a metal sculpture of a bison created by Jack Barker of Essex.

Barker, who has been featured in countless newspaper articles, magazines and travel books, died May 16 of this year. His family is planning an auction in September to sell his metal art and there is great interest in his works by art museums, universities and institutions.

Motorists driving south into Essex have been greeted by Barker’s metal sculptures for years. As his collection of artworks grew in front of his former auto body shop, the bison was among the more notable pieces, often photographed since it was closest to the road.

Why would Wilmington want the bison? While there is a long approval process ahead, planning is underway to someday raise bison at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.  Midewin bison will become a big draw for the community as tourists by the busload will travel here to experience this new addition to the prairie. They will seek out nearby restaurants, shopping and photo opportunities during their visit. 
“Jack Barker’s metal art could be that draw,” commented Chamber president Eric Fisher. “It’s a one-of-a-kind piece made by a local artist. It is the perfect anchor for a Wilmington landmark and someday it will be just like the Gemini Giant in helping to put Wilmington on the map.”

The artwork is appraised at over $8,000. City administrator Tony Graff spoke with the Barker family, asking if they would take less, or at least hold it out of the Sept. 22 estate sale. Eleanor Barker, Jack’s widow, and son Jack, Jr. agreed to sell it for $4,950.

Fisher sent an email blast to chamber members and 20 responses were in favor of making the purchase; three were opposed; four businesses offered donations.

“The price is right and the city is willing to work with us in getting it moved and stored for now,” Fisher said. “We will have to raise funds in the near future but for now we have sent the Barkers a check to let them know we are committed.”

There is potential to put it on the point near the walkbridge or at the entrance to the South Island Park.

Neon lights revived along West Hollywood’s Route 66

 California, Daily  Comments Off on Neon lights revived along West Hollywood’s Route 66
Jan 222011

Great pictures of neon at its best! Neon and Route 66 just go together!!

By LeTania Kirkland
A new outdoor exhibit featuring neon art of the Route 66 era seeks to portray the medium and its creations as indispensable to the artistic heritage and landscape of Los Angeles.

The public exhibit, “On Route 66, Lights,” combines four vintage neon art pieces from the collection of The Museum of Neon Art, as well as a suggested route and 21-page color roadmap of still existent neon signs.

MONA and the city of West Hollywood joined forces to celebrate the city’s 25th anniversary with a self-guided tour of neon art along Santa Monica Blvd (which was once a portion of Route 66) and the Sunset strip.

“As time moves forward into the future and we look back at these things, they really are folk art objects,” said Kim Koga, MONA’s downtown director.

A neon exhibit seemed a fitting way to honor “The Mother Road” and the city it helped create. After all, the first neon sign — for a Packard car dealership — was displayed in Los Angeles. And Route 66 — the quintessential California thoroughfare — became a hot bed of neon signage shortly thereafter.

Neon thrived on the billboards that flanked Route 66 as it did along LA’s sidestreets, fed by LA’s booming car culture, and has become an indispensable aspect of the history and aesthetic of each.

One sign, a 17-foot Winchell’s Donut — originally displayed in Plummer Park — resided on Route 66 in Upland. It was donated to MONA by the Barstow Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum.

The project was partly conceived of as a way to display some of the many pieces of vintage neon, much of which had been sitting in storage since MONA’s relocation to its new, smaller home downtown on 4th Street.

Koga put out the word around town that MONA had pieces of art waiting to be seen. It was then that West Hollywood cultural affairs administrator Andrew Campbell approached Koga with the On Route 66 proposal.

“I don’t think a lot of people would think about putting neon in their main art median,” said Campbell. Campbell is pleased that the “creative city” is celebrating a medium often seen as purely commercial.

“I think it’s a very fun thing to see that these people who may not have considered themselves artists we look at as artists today.”

“On Route 66” is a part of West Hollywood’s “Art on the Outside” program, which utilizes the city’s prominent road medians to display sculpture.

Click HERE to see the full video and many other neon signs.