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Joseph Sterling, The Age of Adolescence 1959-1964, 2006. Gelatin silver print. SBMA, Museum purchase with funds provided by Jane and Michael G. Wilson.
Behind the Wheel
May 5 – August 12, 2012

On December 12, 1925, the world's first motel opened just north of Santa Barbara. At that time, the Milestone Mo-Tel in San Luis Obispo sat along the nascent two-lane highway, the "101," and charged $1.25 a night for a bungalow with attached garage. The era of automobiles as status symbols had begun; for it was only those with cruise-worthy cars that would stop at the Motel Inn on their way between LA and San Francisco. Today, Southern California is still a car culture. This exhibition will examine the enduring love affair between Southern Californians and their automobiles. Chosen from the collection of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, these photographs explore the psychological place of the car in Southern California life. Whether in celebration, investigation, or incrimination, all of the photographs depict those unique mental states that can only be produced behind the wheel.

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