Friendly Natives and Free Coffee

“When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This to the practical man is not difficult. He has a built in garden of reasons to choose from.”

John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

The American road trip is still a strange and exotic experience. When you get off the interstates (whose sole purpose is to move vehicles as quickly as possible) and get onto the old highways, you will find a roadside garden. From buildings shaped like coffee pots to giant neon daffodils, there are all sorts of surreal wonders designed to lure the traveler. Hospitable promises of “friendly natives” and “free coffee”, glittering arrows and cartoon crows; its America’s peculiar mix of commercialism and folk art.

These paintings are a collection of local roadside attractions (some famous and some infamous), from Tacoma to Seattle and many Highway 99 gems. As a painter I have the luxury of weeding out the encroaching homogeneity of chain stores and clutter, and magnifying what is unique. The results are still and lonesome scenes of deserted streets and odd artifacts, and of course, the American automobile.


Ben Carol


Thunderbird Motel


South City Motel


Stevenson Motel




Big Elephant Geraniums


Marco Polo Motel

Prints available at  Fine Art America

All images copyright Sally Banfill. All rights reserved.