Gas and Glamour: Ashok Sinha’s photographs pay homage to American car culture

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In the age of climate change, gas-guzzling cars are rapidly going out of fashion. But even as we reorient to a future filled with sleek, quiet electric cars, there’s still a place in our hearts for the gas-powered past and the all-consuming culture that comes with it.

And it is this nostalgia that the architectural photographer Ashok Sinha connects on a deeply emotional level, in her photo book Gas and Glamour: Roadside Architecture in Los Angeleswhich celebrates automobile culture and architectural advertising in Los Angeles during the golden age of the automobile in the United States.

Based in New York, Ashok is an architectural and fine art photographer known for his large-scale panoramas, which capture a sense of place tied to natural landscapes and built environments. And in Gas and Glamour, he harnesses that skill to explore a time when cars were objects of beauty and the act of driving was celebrated.



Bob’s Big Boy Broil © Ashok Sinha

Fleetwood Center © Ashok Sinha



Fleetwood Center © Ashok Sinha

Union 76 gas station © Ashok Sinha



Union 76 gas station © Ashok Sinha

To reconnect with this lost design history and capture the optimism and ambition induced by the automotive culture of Los Angeles, Ashok’s epic images capture a series of polychrome and star-studded cafes, gas stations, car washes and other structures that once caught the eye of passers-by. the car drivers.

Designed by Kehrer Design, the hardcover book is 72 pages long, features 59 color illustrations, and includes contributions from architect Jack Esterson and curator Sherri Littlefield.

“I will never forget driving my father’s metallic turquoise 1964 Ford Mustang,” recalls Jack Esterson. “It was the model’s first year, and we caused a stir everywhere we went. Especially when we walked into our local burger joint, a bright pink and green lucite box, and got the 40-cent combo meal. fond memories of a time of innocence that never really was, so energized for me by Ashok Sinha’s transcendent and alluring photography of LA’s fast-disappearing hotspots.

McDonald's © Ashok Sinha



McDonald’s © Ashok Sinha

The donut hole © Ashok Sinha



The donut hole © Ashok Sinha

Tokens © Ashok Sinha



Tokens © Ashok Sinha

“Evoked during the Eisenhower and Kennedy years and filtered through the allure of space-age optimism,” he continues, “this marvelous roadside architecture reflected a belief in the future. And now, thanks to hard work Loving Sinha, we look back to an imagined future – of jet travel, limitless expansion and, above all, mobility for all.”

In this light, Jack describes Gas and Glamor as “a document to be treasured – not as nostalgia, no – but as an archival reminder, after its subjects are gone, of how we saw ourselves in the American empire – quickly, orbiting an endless future, and then we remember”.

Timeless beauty

Curator Sherri Littlefield adds, “There is a timeless beauty that can be found in the City of Angels. Los Angeles preserves the traces of a time when the American dream flourished. Home-cooked meals, job security, a strong middle class and vacation The speed of travel brought about a new kind of roadside architecture that made it imperative to quickly identify a pop image or A brand.

Norms Cafe © Ashok Sinha



Norms Cafe © Ashok Sinha

Wigwam Motel © Ashok Sinha



Wigwam Motel © Ashok Sinha

Saga Motor Hotel © Ashok Sinha



Saga Motor Hotel © Ashok Sinha

“As Americans increasingly began to see the world through the windshields of their cars, buildings needed to be recognizable to passing drivers, and architects began to push the boundaries,” she continues. “There was a new sense of optimism in the design of car washes and gas stations, futuristic glass-covered facades of cafes such as Normsand Pann’s, a sense of togetherness in the Bowlium and Van de Kamp’s Holland Dutch Bakery as well as an injection of humor into the architecture of the Donut Hole and the Fleetwood Center.”

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