The Vanishing City:
For twenty years I’ve been painting the changing urban scene of a North American city. Not the quaint cityscapes but the architecture of the everyday: the old, tawdry and forgotten places that we’ve lived and worked in. The backstreet houses, old commercial buildings, and dusty automobiles. The banal things we’re programmed to tune out can have a power in memory and imagination that the clichéd or monumental often lack.
Drawing encouragement from urban painters as diverse as John Sloan, Edward Hopper, and contemporaries like Wayne Thiebaud, James Doolin and Richard Estes, I’ve painted these scenes in a straight-ahead style that respects their nature instead of idealizing them. Of course I don’t paint these scenes because I think they’re ugly. On the contrary, the look of afternoon light on the old brick of an Italianate warehouse, or the cool shadow thrown by the bold diagonal of a freeway ramp are some of the reasons I love the city.
While there are few architectural gems in these scenes, their mixed-up but vital textures, materials and period clichés vividly tell the story of our free market development patterns and values. As our cities plunge ahead with their latest building booms, it’s necessary to look back and note what we’re losing as well as gaining.
I have included some newer works that evoke among other scenes, old neighbourhood movie theatres, garages, factories and hotels and one scene of the ...