Travel-inspiring art

By Valerie Rains
October 3, 2012
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Courtesy <a href="http://www.20x200.com" target="_blank">Mike Sinclair/20x200</a>

At BT, we know the important role that images play in conveying an experience and the ability of a single photograph to launch a life-changing trip. But it's not just glossy travel magazines that can provide those images.

In the last couple of weeks, I've been searching for art for the walls of my new apartment, which has primarily meant stalking the continually refreshed selection of works up on Jen Bekman's amazing affordable-art site 20x200. As expected, I've seen lots of stuff that would make great décor, but what surprised me was how many of the pieces made me want to buy a ticket somewhere, immediately.

Like Hosang Park's aerial photographs of Korean parks and public spaces, which remind me of the joys of having a window seat on a flight.

Or the simple eloquence of Liz Kuball's "Untitled (Santa Barbara) (2009)," in which a bushy, fruit-laden citrus tree hanging over the wood of a backyard fence says as much about the place—the simultaneous moodiness and inherent cheer—as a much busier photograph could.

Many of the pieces also have great commentary from the artists that illuminate the places their works focus on, and the artists' unique perspectives on them.

Mike Sinclair's "Rodeo Stars, Strong City Kansas" tells the story of a multi-generational rodeo family and its community. It's also just a completely charming photo. Here's what Mike says about his subject:

"These portraits show the Roberts family—the father, E.C., and three of his five children: Gerald, Margie and Ken. All three children were world champion rodeo riders. The display is located just outside the rodeo grounds in Strong City, Kansas, where E.C. started his first rodeo in 1937. There's been a rodeo in Strong City ever since. Held in early June, when the bluestem grass on this part of the prairie is its greenest, the rodeo is Chase County's biggest event of the year. People come from as far as Abilene and Wichita.

On Saturday morning a parade starts at Cottonwood Falls, the county seat, and travels one mile north on Highway 57 to Strong City, ending at the rodeo grounds.

After the rodeo, there's a dance at Ken Roberts' old place east of town. Wooden tables and folding chairs brought up from the church circle the outdoor concrete dance floor. Beer and barbecue is for sale. The year I was there, proceeds went to re-roof the town's collapsing opera house.

The dance lasts well past midnight. One couple told me that after the dance they always drive the 30 miles home on back roads with their headlights off, guided only by moonlight."

If that doesn't inspire you to seek out a new travel destination—well, maybe not the part about the locals driving around with no headlights—then I don't know what will.

Note: New limited-edition prints go on sale on 20X200 each Tuesday and Wednesday at 2pm EST. Check back often for art—and trip ideas!

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