In the late 1990s the pace of building development in downtown San Francisco was intense. There seemed to be demolition sites on every block. It was an inspirational time for me: I painted buildings being ripped down and historical facades being propped up; and I photographed old signage which told of the businesses that used to be at the heart of the city’s economy. This architectural deconstruction - with interiors being suddenly and theatrically exposed to the public gaze - was exciting!
It was during this period that I started to be aware of the layered narratives which surround us in the city - the stories that buildings tell us about their past and about the people who used them, stories told with signage, architectural scars, posters and graffiti.
My latest painting, seen here, was inspired by a photograph of a demolition site (3rd St @ Mission) in San Francisco in 1998. An old concrete wall, revealed to the street by the demolition, displayed layers of faded signage, mostly indecipherable except for the hint of a hotel offering hot and cold water. On top of this we can see an old painted Carnation Milk advertisement.
In my painting I pay homage to a bygone era of San Francisco by incorporating text from signs that I found elsewhere in the city during those years. Visible beneath the paint, and woven into the image, each added sign has another story to tell about San Francisco.