Looking for restaurant suggestions? Ask photographer and School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, professor JIM DOW, whose systematic and thorough search for vernacular subjects has propelled him to take countless road trips through North and South America.
Dow has been documenting Latin American quick food vendors for over ten years. The exhibition Taco Trucks, Tacquerias, and Carritos, which opens at Robert Klein Gallery @ Ars Libri (500 Harrison Ave) on July 10th, will present Dow's photographs of American taco trucks, Mexican tacquerias, and Uruguayan carritos together for the first time. Taken between 2005 and 2015, the series presents a wide variety of Latin American food stands, cultural standbys whose goods are, for many, a daily staple.
Ranging from utilitarian, unadorned carts to trucks laden with neon signs, the establishments in these photographs are run by native Spanish speakers. These businesses are not run by celebrity chefs, they do not follow gastronomic trends, and only a few of them post their locations on Twitter. And it is these qualities that bring Dow's subject matter to life: as he writes in his 2011 book American Studies, these are "mom-and-pop shops, vehicles of dreams, carrying the weight of a whole family's aspirations for financial success."
In Mexico, Uruguay, and Argentina, tacquerias and carritos are largely permanent fixtures: the trucks have flat tires and are functionally stationary, stands are sunk into concrete, and electricity is often drawn from a subversive network of power cords, lines, and wires running up lampposts. In the United States, taco trucks are mobile by definition, their locations strictly regulated and thus dependent on local permits and laws. Dow calls these vehicles "the gastronomic undead, rushing back to their parking lot crypts at the end of each evening."
Jim Dow's Taco Trucks, Tacquerias, and Carritos will open at Robert Klein Gallery @ Ars Libri (500 Harrison Ave) on Friday, July 10th, with an artist's reception from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. The reception is free and open to the public. The exhibition will run through September 12th, 2015.