May 012011

NC has a whole hybrid art theme, understated but insistent—Nance Van Winckel’s photoems, graffiti art, Domenic Stansberry’s graphic novel, and Nance’s off-the-page workshop video. We also like our art seasoned with a dash of wit and arrogance. So on this slow, droll Sunday, NC offers for your delectation a spritely, deadly comic photo essay by photographer Melissa Fisher who recently spent an afternoon in Whitehall, NY, (where the United States Navy was founded, mysteriously far from any ocean front, and a place noted for its Big Foot sightings—there is a Big Foot Liquor Store). Melissa has, in fact, a lot of affection for Whitehall where once she says, her car broke down and the local mechanic was sweet and persistently helpful as was the guy at the Sunoco station where she got a slice of pizza. She also, being from Vermont, has an affection for the backwoods, forgotten places, vestiges of older times, and the quirky things you find when you get off the main street. Whitehall proved to be a goldmine of comic signage, poignant in its juxtaposition with a kind of upstate economic decline. Her work has been published in Vermont Life and Hunger Mountain, and she has had an exhibition at After Image Studio in Montpelier.




—Photos by Melissa Fisher

  29 Responses to “And the Sign Said: Photographs — Melissa Fisher”

  1. That Cowboy Church is fantastic. All of those photos are. The world is rich with magical items. Thanks for showing me these.

  2. What a great eye, Melissa. Amazing shots. Funny yet affecting, sad too.

    • Not quite the romance of the Mediterranean, but Whitehall does charm me. And I loved your recent post, by the way. Talk about rich photos and lovely text…

  3. Great photos!!!

    Just wondering if you had to trespass to get the shot of the head.

    • Truth? I didn’t dare… barely made it outside my car…

      • I didn’t realize it the wig-head was at the same place with the serious warning against trespassing. What a great eye for irony with tones of both hope and despair. A mash-up of chilling & charming (in that small-town way).

  4. Amazing what a photo becomes with a smart eye behind the lens … Whitehall – what a story!
    Thanks Melissa.

  5. I loved this! These rural areas are such rich territory for signs and wonders. We have a cowboy church not too far south of where we live–you can bring your horses and dogs along, I guess.

  6. Wow – Melissa thanks for posting. I just love all the different emotions that came at me in these photos.

  7. Sasquatch on the back-9! Too fun. Thanks for posting…great shots.

  8. Smoke inside the Cowboy Church? Great photos.

  9. Thanks for posting this Melissa. I love this series so much. I have about a million questions (per photo).

    • Thanks, Mary. Glad you liked it. Ask away, if you’d like. I meant to stop by for about 30 min., but this turned into a 3 hour adventure in and around town. Kept pulling me over and pulling me in. It’s that sort of place. I still have questions, so I’m sure I’ll be back before long.

  10. Melissa, these are so funny, and a little sad too when they’re not downright terrifying, like the Skene Country Club. Yikes!

  11. That head creeped me out.

    • Me, too. I was wondering what it’s like to come home in the dark with her there. Meant to be humor? Or art? or…?

  12. Eerie portrait of a small town, all the more spooky for the lack of people. You have me curious about Whitehall. Thanks for sharing your photos Melissa.

  13. Wonderful. Though they remind me of a great failure: I failed to photograph the sign at the Mystic Convenience store before it vanished.

  14. You really found and captured some thought provoking images. Thanks for sharing.

  15. We are actually starting a cowboy church in East Hubbardton VT, I came across your website when i was working on the website for our church, we will be having our first service on Easter, April 8th 2012, if you want to check us out we are on the web at or on facebook at

  16. Towns like this punctuated our long drive home to Kitchener yesterday. Seeing your photos this morning added a new subtext to our journey and the lunch conversation. Thanks for posting these.

  17. Mellissa, are you in Whitehall? I have been looking for you everywhere.

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