Signs of the South: Original and Archival Photographs

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Signs of the South: Original and Archival Photographs

by Charlie Curtis
Southern Cultures, Vol. 6, No. 2: Summer 2000

"What could a former fashion photographer possibly have to offer Southern Cultures?"

What could a former fashion photographer possibly have to offer Southern Cultures?

A tour of the past and present. Charlie Curtis says that it was a deep love for preservation that led to this collection of the archival photography of Dorthea Lange and Marion Post, along with his own original pictures of the signs that he has encountered during his daily travels through Virginia and North Carolina countryside. He spent his youth on a Virginia farm, which he says gave him “a real soft spot for the small towns off the highways and dirt roads.” For him these places and their signs have become friendly beacons, reminders of stories and culture hidden to speeding passerby: the barn-shaped garage and Barker’s Snack Shop in Semora; Mildred’s Kitchen, the Elk’s Home, and Hope Glory of Apostolic Church in Eden; the electric fence and rusted Coca-Cola signs in Caswell County; a stained-glass window in Danville. Even the “Prepare to Meet God” warning, which today still demands the attention of even the most lighthearted travelers, soon “became a welcome part of the landscape.”