Squires featured Cuba, MO's Wagon Wheel Motel in his "Come Along for the Ride" series.
More Cuba,Missouri/Rt. 66-related artist news…
Although Joseph Squires’ involvement with Route 66 has been lifelong, his designation as a Rt. 66 artist is relatively new. With the introduction of his first edition prints in his Route 66 Heritage Collection, Squires joins a group of artists who draw creative inspiration from the road. Two prints in his “Come Along for the Ride Series,” reflect memories of two Missouri Route. 66 icons, the Red Cedar Inn Restaurant in Pacific, MO and the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Missouri.
Joe Squires attended Cuba Fest and signed his art cards. He loves meeting new friends wherever he goes.
After Squires’ wife Carolyn passed away in 2005, he was inspired to paint Route. 66 scenes in 2006. “My Route. 66 series of art is a nostalgic ride back in time,” states Squires. “Some of the best memories I have are our teenage years together.” Carolyn’s dad was a baker by trade, and he and his family moved back to St. Louis from Sullivan, MO in 1954.
This is when Squires met Carolyn. Her family kept their farm near Sullivan and traveled there on weekends. “Carol and I spent a lot of time driving out to visit, doing some sight seeing along the road, then driving back to St. Louis on old Rt. 66,” reflects Squires. He sees his art as his memories brought to life.
When he was a young boy, Squires’ family often traveled Rt. 66. One of their favorite places to eat was the Red Cedar Inn in Pacific, MO. Ginger Smith says that she had two uncles who built the original building from long cedar logs. The logs were brought from their farm in Villa Ridge. The inn, which later added a bar, became a popular Rt. 66 eatery and a legendary stop for travelers. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Our favorite Red Cedar Inn meal was the fried chicken dinner. The Smith family who ran the restaurant were like family to everyone who stopped in,” says Squires. Later Squires and Carolyn would make the restaurant a regular stop on their travels. The Red Cedar Inn, which has been closed, is commemorated in the print “Dinner on the Road.”
Squires places two signature elements in his Rt. 66 prints, his first car, a customized 1947 Chevy Fleetline and a glimpse of his wife Carolyn.
The second print in the series is called “Asleep at the Wheel,” and it depicts Squires and Carolyn in the ’47 Chevy driving by the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba. The background shows the distinctive rock cabins on the motel’s tree shaded grounds. The famous motel has been a Rt. 66 landmark since the 1930s and is on the National Historic Register. The motel, which is still operating, has always been known for its neon Wagon Wheel sign.
Squires works from SQ Studio in Ballwin, MO, which is a block off old Rt. 66. Besides painting, he is active in the Missouri Route. 66 Association. He refers to his work as a “studio full of memories.”
Born in 1937, Squires’ interest in cars and art started early. When he was a child in South St. Louis, he use to sit on the front porch with his dad and learned to recognize all the makes of cars that passed. Eventually, he could close his eyes and identify them by the sound of the engine.
Artistically, Squires was influenced by what was then called the “funny papers” and a local sign painter, who lived behind him. When his dad brought the newspaper home, Squires would take the comic section and lie on the living room floor and read the funnies. “In between school work and the other normal kids stuff, I would make up my own stories and draw. Cartoons were an outlet for my sense of humor.
“I didn’t go to art school until my discharge from the military. By that time, I knew I wanted a career in art.” Squires worked hard at Washington University and was fortunate to land jobs working in the advertising business, where he worked for 40 years before he retired.
“I prefer to work in watercolor over oils. I like to put subtle details in them that people enjoy. Now that I am retired I take my time finishing my paints at my own pace.
Joe Squires worked on a painting while at Cuba Fest.
Future works include plans for other landmarks on or near the Mother Road. “I have a project in my studio for Wayne Winchester who owns Jensen’s Point property outside Pacific, MO.”
Squires also does custom paintings of classic cars for their owners, which allows him to combine his talent for art with his love of cars.
Squires is working on setting up an EBay sales site and a website www.sqstudioart66 although neither are active yet. This project is ongoing, and he wants to be able to sell products associated with his art. With the holiday season, Squires in enthused about creating his own Christmas card for his friends.
It will be interesting to see how Squires includes his two signature elements in future Rt. 66 prints that emerge from his “studio of memories.” After years of regretting selling his ’47 Chevy, he bought another one, which he uses when he makes appearances at art and Rt. 66 associated events.
September 2009 found Squires and his car in Cuba, MO at the Lions Club Car Show. Both the car and the art drew viewers.
“Every time I go on a trip, I learn something new and meet new friends along the way. Rt. 66 is a big part of America’s heritage,” states Squires. Now, he will share this heritage with everyone.
Squires sells signed 18″ X 12″ prints and signed 5 1/2″ X 8 1/2″ art cards. A portion of the sales goes to the American Heart and Stroke Association in memory of his wife. He can be reached at 314-473-5499. His email is email@example.com.