Steve Fitch - Homegrown Murals

ACTION ON THE PLAINS: Art in Rural Environments
Homegrown Murals and Main Street Views

Seibert, Colorado, 2015
Homegrown Murals includes a series of recent images made as part of Steve Fitch's long term exploration of the cultural and vernacular landscape of the American Southwest and High Plains regions. The photographs show a number of rural “homegrown” murals, hand-painted by local citizens throughout the region. Using a digital, handheld camera each image is pieced together from as many as a dozen individual frames to create a picture that does not exactly mirror what we see on the ground but, instead, expands upon our experience of the painted walls.

The urge to view the earth from above has deep roots, from hot air ballooning photographers in the mid-1800s to today's unmanned drones carrying digital cameras. Through the use of aerial photography we've moved our gaze from stunted microcosmic views of the past to envisioning futuristic and transcendental space in hopes of imagining other worlds. Main Street Views explores the vastness of the plains region through both the exploration of land use and the stratification of architectural structures seen on rural main streets. Fitch combines two photographic views, one straight on, laser focused that shows boarded up windows referencing the current health of our rural towns and the second an aerial bird's eye view which pushes our eyes toward a holistic perspective of small town living, filling the picture frame with productive farmland, well tended houses and newer agricultural structures. In this series of photographs Fitch attempts to calibrate our visual inferences about rural space by balancing aging historic relics with future dreams found on the prairie sea.

On view at The Feed Store
August 21 — October 9, 2015
350 W. Front St., Byers, Colorado 80103
Hours: Thursday, Friday and every third Saturday from 10am to 2pm
By appointment:

Steve Fitch began photographing along America's two lane highways after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in Anthropology in the early 1970s. After five years on the road, Fitch produced a series of iconic black and white photographs published as a monograph entitled "Diesels and Dinosaurs". An accomplished and nationally award winning artist, Fitch continues to explore the rural vernacular bringing it to a larger audience in several books "Marks in Place", "Gone", "The Llano Estacado" and "Motel Signs". Fitch has taught photography at the University of Colorado, the University of Texas, Princeton University and the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and has received three National Endowment for the Arts awards as well as an Eliot Porter Fellowship. Today, Steve Fitch lives off the grid with his wife in a hand-built passive solar adobe house in rural New Mexico.   

Action on the Plains is a collaborative program developed by M12 in 2010 to support experiential art-making activities on the Eastern Colorado High Plains. Guest artists are invited to work with M12 on conceptualizing and creating new work with citizens in and around Washington County, Colorado. M12 selects creative practitioners whose work is on the cutting edge of an ever-expanding international dialogue surrounding art practices in rural environments. The Action on the Plains projects add new perspectives to regional cultural production and are specifically designed to resonate with rural life in Colorado and beyond. Annually, M12 and the Action on the Plains program features one artist enrolled in the graduate program at the University of Colorado, Boulder, helping to build long-lasting connections between academics and the rural landscapes of Colorado.

M12 creates interdisciplinary site-based art works, research projects, and education and outreach programs. Working in the fields of sculpture, architecture, and public art and design, we favor projects that are centered in rural areas and which can be developed through dialogical and collaborative approaches. Our projects explore community identity and the value of often under-represented rural communities and their surrounding landscapes. We have a holistic organizational philosophy that fuses creative practice, cultural institutionality and education. We are based in Byers, Colorado and also operate a land-based project site located in Last Chance.

The Action on the Plains program in 2015 is generously funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and its Our Town Program; and the Gates Family Foundation.

M12 extends our gratitude to our community collaborators including The Washington County Commissioners; Byers America; The Deer Trail Pioneer Historical Society and Museum; and Joe Turecek.


Our mailing address is:
Office for Connective Aesthetics
350 W. Front Street
ByersCO 80103