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Route 66 PostmarkArt Closeup

Route 66 and More Close-up.

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Work Stamped with Route 66


By Karen Blatter

Bloomington Pantagraph
Tuesday, September 14, 2004

PONTIAC It took two years, 28,600 miles and at least one ride on a mule for Ken Turmel to create his tribute to Route 66.

He took the artwork to every post office in every city along the 2,448 miles of highway so postmarks could be stamped on the canvas. One of the post offices, deep in the Grand Canyon, was accessible only by mule and horse.

A reproduction of Turmel's work, "66 and More ..." is on display at the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac.

The museum is accepting donations from people who want a copy of the artwork, in which Turmel airbrushed the historic route and all the states it runs through and then adorned it with postage stamps about the road and states.

"It came from a dream," he said last month, while visiting the museum with a group from Norway. "Mile by mile I was blessed to do this. It is history. I hand-carried -- it was never mailed -- to every post office. It was blank at first, and mile by mile, it blossomed into the artwork you now see."

Marty Blitstein and Cathie Stevanovich both have a passion for the historic road and Blitstein sees something new every time he looks at the 2- by 3-foot work.

"It is historic artwork of the road," he said. "I see something different each time I look at it. It is impressive that it was all done by hand."

The work hung in his living room before he donated it to the museum.

Turmel, who used to work for the U.S. Postal Service, calls the work "postmark art." He has done similar tributes for Texas and Oklahoma.

"I never collected stamps or postmarks in my career," he said. "I picked out (stamps with) things that you would have seen along the roadway. There is a sidebar for every stamp here."

Turmel made 2,448 reproductions of the Route 66 art, one for each mile of the road. He said all the stamps used are vintage and represent items such as state flags and state birds.

"I thought it was important to record history in this manner," Turmel said. "These are all going to be a thing of the past."


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