"Rarely have I seen color used to such effect in photography. A retinal thrill."
--Graham Howe, Assistant Curator of Photography, MOCA/LA
"Gumbiner and Hayden expose the making of the modern west by focusing on the places bypassed by relentless progress. These photographs capture the irony embodied in a landscape that is both sunstruck and haunted."
--Matthew Roth, Founding Curator, Petersen Automotive Museum
"An absolutely wonderful book. It's mesmerizing."
--Larry Mantle, KPCC-FM
Vacant Eden captures with humor, photographic, and artistic skill, the cultural and desert mirages left behind by a generation who had a love affair with the road. Paradise Motor Lodge, Silent Wheels, the Topicana and the Desert Edge, favored destinations of the 1930s, '40s and '50s, stir our memories in this unusual roadside photo essay.
Captured in the fantastic light of the Sonoran Desert, evocative images crafted in neon, themed bungalows, swamp coolers, and poolside ramadas still seduce our imaginations with myths of the American West. The interstate highways have bypassed and overrun these varied roads and enticing rest stops and which continued to disappear even as the photographers were creating this work.
Richly photographed by two dedicated artists with lively text by a noted chronicler of pop culture and regional history, Vacant Eden allows readers a poignant, nostalgic look at one our favorite bygone eras.
Jim Heimann is the author of five books on popular culture and regional history; California Crazy, Hooray for Hollywood!, Out With the Stars, and Close Cover Before Striking. His most recent is Car Hops and Curb Service, (Chronicle 1996). His work has appeared in California Magazine, The Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone.
Abigail Gumbiner is a photographer and metal sculptor whose work is installed at Shidoni, New Mexico, and in several galleries in the West. Carol Hayden is an outdoor photographer, historian and computer software developer. Together they formed CatchLight Photography and have sold and shown their work in corporate and private venues.