Serene Desolation: Hyper-Realistic Paintings of Small Town America

Sometimes the most simple of scenes can make the most poignant of paintings. Artistic interpretations of small town America have documented the journey of the country through the years, recording societal changes in the familiar landscape as it transitioned into the modern era. Artist Rod Penner continues this tradition by painting small towns in the great state of Texas. It’s part photojournalism, part photorealism.

Happy 4th of July! American Flags from 1767 to the Present

Happy 4th of July, America! To celebrate, we think you’ll enjoy this fascinating look at the history of the old Stars and Stripes through history—all the way back to before it was even the Stars and Stripes at all.

This patriotic print from Pop Chart Labs traces the flag through 48 versions, beginning with the star-less “Rebellious Stripes” of 1767 and finishing with the 50-star flag we’ve flown since 1960 (too bad for people who bought the 49-star version of 1959). You’ll definitely want to check out the zoomable view of this poster here.

American Hip Hop Culture In the Style of Norman Rockwell

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For his 2012 mixtape Royalty, rapper Donald Glover, better known as Childish Gambino, hired NYC- based artist Sam Spratt to create his album cover. Spratt explained, “What began as cover art for his mixtape “Royalty” evolved into a series of Rockwell-esque vignettes on Americana meant to highlight the side of hip-hop that tends to take a back seat to “money, cars, and jewelry” – where you come from… The pieces are littered with tiny nods, details, and Easter eggs that Childish fans will appreciate, but really these are the stories of many people—not just one. The chance to paint vignettes based on Donald’s music, and the genres it’s born from, wasn’t something I would ever pass up.”

Photographs from a Sacred American Suburb

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Photographer Tom M. Johnson grew up in Lakewood, a suburban town outside of Los Angeles. After many years of traveling and living abroad, the artist now has a different view (as most people do) of his home country and town. He saw the differences, the similarities, and photographed what made his particular town unique in the world. Johnson has recently published a series called Lakewood: Portraits of a Sacred American Suburb.

It’s Only a Paper Moon: Good Times, Vintage Portraits

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Long before Instagram, photo booths or even the common ownership of a camera, you could get your photograph taken sitting on the moon. Often a fixture at fairs, parties and carnivals, people sat in the crescent of a smiling “paper moon,” as if lifted to the stars. A photographic phenomena primarily of the early half of the 20th century, it captivated the imagination of a world pre-Photoshop and gave many a memorable image of great times.

California Americana: Photography of Harper Smith

California has a look and feel unlike any other place in the world. Not only does it sit firmly behind the wheel — pole position — taking us all to the promised land of the future; but, it can never fully shake the traditions of the past. There’s something cosmic about the ocean, occult about the deserts, and mystical about the sun and moon of California that separate it from anywhere else. It’s not something easily explained to people, it’s something felt. Like having a glass of red wine while watching the sun set over the hills from a balcony overlooking a canyon, the sunlight kissing the brush gently as the shadows take hold, carrying everything into the night. Photographer Harper Smith catches these divine moments for us on film… maybe so we don’t have to burn them into our collective consciousness, hoping to keep their vision before us in silent wonderment.

A Family That Time Forgot: Traditional Kentucky Living

Life in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky has changed a lot in the past 100 years. What was once a vibrant culture, filled with traditional ways of living, methods of supporting yourself and a reliance on community, is quickly disappearing, if not gone all together. In the early 1980’s, photographer Shelby Lee Adams stumbled upon a forested ‘holler’ called Beehive, the home of the Napier family. Their way of living stunned him. Chickens ran through the yard, hound dogs came running, small cobbled together homes had ceder smoke wafting out of their chimneys… with just one small line for electricity, it was truly like stepping back in time.

Current Artists Reinterpret Norman Rockwell

No art seems to have better represented the American good life than that of the iconic Norman Rockwell. Over thirty years after his death, his traditionally themed works still resonate with a huge audience of fans, warming peoples hearts with their down to earth home-cooked goodness. Now ISM in collaboration with Muckenthaler Cultural Center are bringing together contemporary reinterpretations of his work created by 40 current artists.

Shot Through the Window: People Driving

For his book, 66 Drives, Andrew Bush photographed from his car while traveling 10 to 70 mph through Los Angeles and other parts of the Southwestern United States. His photos document a piece of America often seen, and often overlooked. Check out more or buy the book at