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The Star-Ledger Archive
COPYRIGHT © The Star-Ledger 2006

Date: 2006/07/21 Friday Page: 014 Section: TICKET Edition: FINAL Size: 436 words

A colorful world in the long haul

Hilgendorf's images on display at Gallery 14


"Trucks and Truckers" and "The Value of the Land"
Where: Gallery 14, 14 Mercer St., Hopewell
When: Noon-5 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays through Aug. 27 and by appointment
How much: Free. Call (609) 333-8511 or visit, or

Jim Hilgendorf appreciates what can be found out on the open road. In the case of his show currently at Gallery 14 in Hopewell, that means exploring the world of long-haul truckers.

Hilgendorf's project involves visiting various TravelCenters of America truck stops with the company's permission, documenting the people he meets as well as the man-made landscape. The photographer also realizes that the images may provoke questions from the viewer, so he carried a small digital recorder for note taking. Small pieces of wall text accompany the portraits to give you a better idea of who these people are and how they make their livings.

Shot near twilight and often after dark, Hilgendorf's images are visually and emotionally colorful. A Barstow, Calif., visit yielded a portrait of Kim Burrows, who polishes trucks for a living. Hilgendorf, a transplanted New Hope, Pa., resident now in Manhattan, depicts her with wax-stained hands, while brief text posted alongside the image explains she drums up business by contacting potential customers via CB radio.

Salvation in the night is shown in the form of a red neon cross above a mobile chapel, while a sign above the door asks "Do You Want to Go to Heaven? Flight Instruction Here." The sky is nearly black, providing just a hint of outline on a tree line in the distance. A highly polished black truck cab next to the chapel entrance is highlighted by the light from the cross.

Many of the truckers depicted are a rugged looking bunch, with T-shirts and beards and tattoos. But there is a gentler side to their personalities that Hilgendorf captures, whether by coaxing a smile or having someone hold up a puppy for the camera.

Kathleen Connally, the guest exhibitor in the show, presents an idealized vision of rural Pennsylvania and New Jersey in "The Value of the Land," a good deal of which consists of images from her visual musings of "A Walk Through Durham Township, Pennsylvania," shot near her home.

The colors are vibrant, the skies are cloud-streaked and everything seems at peace. Even her black-and-whites, rendered as richly toned prints, have a presence beyond normal images, with excellent shadow detail and rich blacks.

PHOTO CAPTION: 1. The neon trim of a Las Vegas gas station glows in one of the images from Jim Hilgendorf's "Trucks and Truckers" exhibit. (Top) Hairdresser Drema Roberts is one of the people Hilgendorf met as he visited various TravelCenters of America truck stops. CREDIT: 1.

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