Gardner, through his photographs, exists in a sliver of time of what America once was and what America was driving to be. Photos of American Indians in traditional clothing trying their hand at Washington politics in attempt to reverse the already inevitable. And an America barreling towards modernization through Civil War, transcontinental travel, and western expansion.
Excuse me while I get sentimental here. While I stood transfixed on the photo of the American West that my father hung at my childhood home, I saw American history through his eyes. I felt a longing for a history that I share through my birthplace and American experience, but I didn’t recognize. I was born a short drive from where that photo was taken. But that America is gone. That America hangs on walls.