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Motel Vegas Captures Iconic Las Vegas Architecture and Automobile Culture

ViewZine Admin
Motel Vegas Captures Iconic Las Vegas Architecture and Automobile Culture

Small Works Press last month announced the release of Motel Vegas by photographer Fred Sigman. Motel Vegas is a major pictorial treatise on the rise and fall of Americas roadside architecture. Motels, motor-courts and their various manifestations have played a significant role in the development of automobile culture, especially with the advent of famed Route 66; the “Mother Road” that unlocked the west for millions of Americans and intrepid travelers from around the world. Motel Vegas celebrates the vaunted architectural vernacular that at once dominated Las Vegas’ skyline. 

“What is preserved for me, in the motels, the signs and the themes, are remnants of the oral stories that remind us of early travels in the desert.’ Fred Sigman, Motel Vegas

Based upon previous photographic projects Fred had completed about Las Vegas, these photographs were commissioned by Ivan Karp, the American art dealer, gallerist and author, instrumental in the emergence of pop art and the development of Manhattan’s SoHo gallery district. 

“What I did not find in the motels were the wistful memories of childhood family vacations, or the reminiscences of bygone eras of Kerouac -inspired road trips”. Fred Sigman, Motels Vegas

Photographs, made with a large format view camera, document the most historic motel locations in Las Vegas and surrounding area make up the book. Including essays by City of Las Vegas Historic Preservation Commissioner Bob Stoldal, Las Vegas Artist James Stanford, Nevada Press Association writing award winner Scott Dickensheets, and a foreword by Alan Hess, architectural historian and one of American’s preeminent authorities on Modernism, 

“Modernism’s radiant city still remains out here, diminished, forgotten, and overlooked, but still offering a new way of looking at the city.” Alan Hess, Sky Ranch for Motel Vegas Oct 28, 2018

Fred Sigman is a photographer, art historian and adventurer. Born in Asheville, North Carolina, Sigman spent his early years growing up in his mother's childhood home, until the age of nine, when they moved to Paris. As a young boy he attended boarding school at Notre-Dame de Boulogne and during these formative years living in Europe, he began to take photographs wherever they traveled. Fred brings to this project a lifetime of globetrotting experiences which would lay the foundation of his later academic studies. He would receive his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) in Art History and Philosophy. While at the University of New Mexico (UNM), Fred’s master’s thesis examined the early work of Wassily Kandinsky. His doctoral dissertation contextualized the work of four American photographers who sought the “spiritual in art” among the world’s cultures and ancient architecture. 

Sigman’s career would lead him to be one of the few photographers ever permitted to photograph inside of a casino with a view camera. In addition, he went on to work as the archivist and photographer at the world-famous Las Vegas News Bureau, part of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. He has taught art history in various colleges and universities in the American southwest. Exhibitions of Fred’s work have been held throughout the United States including New York, Palm Beach, Las Vegas, San Diego, Albuquerque and internationally.

Fred continues as a professor of global art history, while teaching online from his home in Southeast Asia and while continuing his travels.