LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There’s a term for the small, forgotten, out-of-the way roads that connect towns across rural America: “Blue Highways.” Author William Least Heat-Moon coined the phrase as a nod to old roadmaps that color-code highways red and backroads blue.
In her new solo exhibition titled Road Map to Heaven, acclaimed photographer and native Kentuckian Linda Bruckheimer pays homage to America’s Blue Highways — and the destinations to which they lead. Featuring photographs of locales from the Carolinas to California, Arizona to Georgia, and a dozen states in between, Road Map draws inspiration from the journey Linda’s family took in the 1950s when they packed up their ’53 Packard and relocated from the Bluegrass to the Golden State — an experience that fueled Linda’s lifelong passion for road trips. The exhibit is open at the Frazier History Museum from Jan. 22 to April 14.
On display are photographs Bruckheimer took on various road trips over the past twelve years, cataloguing the people, places, and landscapes of America in destinations spanning 15 states from Myrtle Beach to Hollywood.
The exhibit, toured from start to finish, follows the journey westward, surveying different pockets of the country and the unique venues nestled within them: a blues hall in Tennessee and a ghost town in California; the “Mystery Hole” in West Virginia and the Cadillac Ranch in the Texas Panhandle; horse farms, barbershops, adobe houses, cemeteries, tattoo parlors — and dozens of diners, motels, billboards, rest stops, and tourist traps along the way. Even the gallery has a road trip motif, with gas pumps, neon signs, and novelties galore.
The playlist of timeless, road trip-ready music that plays in the gallery includes songs by Chuck Berry (“Route 66”), Elvis Presley (“Viva Las Vegas”), John Denver (“Rocky Mountain High”), and Ray Charles (“Georgia On My Mind”). Proverbs about travel by Emerson, Thelma & Louise, and others are displayed by the photographs, capturing in their wisdom the spirit of adventure at the heart of this exhibit.
Bruckheimer is a best-selling author, magazine editor, photographer, filmmaker, and preservationist. Born Linda Cobb, she was raised in Louisville and later Los Angeles. From 1989 to 1995, she was the West Coast editor of the women’s magazine Mirabella. She has written and produced two animated specials for PBS and authored two-bestselling novels: Dream Southern (1999) and The Southern Belles of Honeysuckle Way (2005). Her photographs have been exhibited at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. as well as the Frazier History Museum, the John James Audubon Museum, the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion, and My Old Kentucky Home State Park. Linda is married to film and television producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The couple splits their time between Los Angeles and Bloomfield, Ky., a small town south of Louisville, where they own a 1,600-acre property, Walnut Groves Farm, with a Greek Revival they’ve restored. An avid preservationist, Linda has since restored several other historic buildings in Bloomfield.