US Highway 89 photography exhibit shows diverse Utah culture

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"People, Places, and Things on U.S. 89" art exhibit is being displayed at the Attic at Academy Square. Photographer, John Telford created the 30-peice set to portray life along highway 89.  (Elliott Miller)
“People, Places, and Things on U.S. 89” art exhibit is being displayed at the Attic at Academy Square. Photographer, John Telford created the 30-peice set to portray life along highway 89. (Elliott Miller)

The Attic at Academy Square in Provo is hosting a photography exhibit by John Telford, professor emeritus at BYU and former chair of the Department of Visual Arts.

The exhibit, called “People, Places and Things on U.S. 89,” focuses on the rural settings and people scattered across the length of the historic highway.

The photography, captured in black and white to give the work a photojournalistic quality, is a 30-piece set portraying a variety of Utahns in their day-to-day environments. The exhibit will open starting Monday.

“Everyone I photographed had very interesting stories associated with them,” Telford said.

These stories range from a local casket builder to a bee keeper, a big-city mayor to a small town barber, and include just about everything in between. One of the photos captures the small log cabin where the nationally famous outlaw Butch Cassidy grew up.

Former BYU faculty member, John Telford captures Utah's cultural diversity in photography exhibit about the people and places along U.S. Highway 89. (Photo courtesy John Telford)
Former BYU faculty member, John Telford captures Utah’s cultural diversity in photography exhibit about the people and places along U.S. Highway 89. (Photo courtesy John Telford)

U.S. Highway 89 extends from the Canadian border to the frontier of Mexico. It stretches 503 miles north to south in Utah and runs through 12 Utah counties. It is Utah’s Heritage Highway, a major life-vein of culture that connects Utah’s diversity of people and places.

“U.S. 89 is the thread that binds them all together. It’s a celebration of the uniqueness of people up and down that road,” Telford said.

The exhibit is of particular interest for those who come from out of state and are new to Utah.

“Many of us — especially if we are transplants just here for school — have a vision of Utah and Utah culture that only includes the things we experience on the Wasatch Front. Looking at this exhibit, it becomes abundantly clear that there is so much more to our state,” said Erika Hill, the community relations coordinator for the Provo City Library.

The exhibit explores the scenic route and slower-paced drive of U.S. 89 contrasted to the monotony of franchises and structures that litter the busy interstates.

“You drive the interstate and you hardly know what state you’re in; it’s all the same. But this route through Utah really explores the local quality of the landscape and also the people,” Telford said.

The Attic chose to exhibit this particular work during the summer to reflect the road trips people take during these months.

One of 30 photographs in John Telford's "People, Places, and Things on U.S. 89" exhibit. It is being displayed in the Attic at Academy Square. (Elliott Miller)
One of 30 photographs in John Telford’s “People, Places, and Things on U.S. 89” exhibit. It is being displayed in the Attic at Academy Square. (Elliott Miller)

So many of us spend a significant amount of time driving in the summer, and so we thought we’d send The Attic on a bit of a road trip as well,” Hill said.

The exhibit is hosted by the Utah Division of Arts and Museums. The Attic is part of the Provo City Library and has been active as an exhibit space since February. It is located on the fourth floor of the Library. Admission is free. The hours are:

Monday 5 p.m.–8 p.m.
Tuesday 10:30 a.m.–1 p.m.; 5 p.m.–8 p.m.
Wednesday 10:30 a.m.–1 p.m.; 5 p.m.–8 p.m.
Thursday 10:30 a.m.–1 p.m.; 4 p.m.–8 p.m.
Friday 5 p.m.–8 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

 

 

 

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