I’ve just discovered some old photos of work I was doing 15 years ago when I had been painting for only a few years.
These photos surprised me. I had forgotten how long I have been using street posters and signage in my paintings. I remember getting my posters from plywood hoardings around building sites in the Mission and SOMA districts of San Francisco. I would go out the day after it had rained and pull down thick layers of old dirty posters and drag them back to my studio. Then San Francisco got all cleaned up and my supply was threatened…until a good friend, who travels to Europe every year, started sending me packages of posters from the streets of Portugal, France, and Italy.
My work has changed a lot since then – my focus has pulled back from details to whole buildings – but the excitement about the urban environment, with all its decay and graffiti, is still there. Those of you who follow my work know that every painting I do includes street posters. Sometimes they are beneath the paint layer and the viewer has to discover them, and sometimes they are more noticeable. But in this old work the posters are bold – they are the subject matter. I like these paintings – they are fearless!