Roadside memorials catch photographer’s eye
DILLON ” The first roadside cross memorial photographer Bob Winsett ever shot was at the top of Fremont Pass by Clinton Reservoir.
“I drove by it 15 or 20 times and finally decided, I gotta stop and look,” he said. The cross was draped with plastic flowers and adorned with design work. The work someone put into it, and the beautiful setting, were enough to pull the artist out of his car and up to the site.
Winsett, whose photographic study of roadside crosses in and around Summit County and elsewhere will be on display at the Lord of the Mountains Church in Dillon today through April 14, said his show is a culmination of years of driving around and seeing the crosses. He said he wondered about the story and the people behind them. When he saw a new one, he said it made him wonder if the crosses put up long ago were still being visited.
A journal will be available at the display for people to write and share.
“I’m hoping people who come and see the show and know the history will enter it into the journal,” Winsett said.
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The photographer said that with most of the crosses, he didn’t know the story behind them, so his emotional response was limited.
However, he said, the cross on Ptarmigan Trail road, near where in 2005 Frisco resident Heidi Astuto drove her car off a cliff and onto Interstate 70, made him think.
He said he wondered, “What’s so wrong in life you have to do that?”
At least a third of the crosses photographed are in Summit County. The others are from the Southwest, Wyoming, Costa Rica and Ecuador.
Aside from curiosity, another catalyst to the project was the state of Colorado’s announcement that the state wanted to standardize roadside tributes.
Winsett said the state was interested in this because some are maintained and some are not. One example, which is displayed in his show, is of a site in Arizona with five crosses, which he said were presumably from the same accident.
“It’s an abacus more than a devotion to the people who died because (the crosses) are all the same. There’s no name, nothing to identify them,” he said. “Almost all others have something on them like ‘We miss you Julia’ or the name and date.”
Winsett said he hoped people would see the beauty in the art and also the vulnerability of the human condition. He said that when he sees a roadside cross, it reminds him to pay more attention to his driving.
“The people memorialized there probably never thought they’d die in a car crash,” he said.
Leslie Brefeld can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13622, or email@example.com.