This Di Falco etching—disturbing, yet hauntingly beautiful—depicts a section of his home city, Camden, New Jersey. He employed the studio techniques of intaglio, aquatint, and drypoint on a zinc etching plate and developed the image in four baths of Nitric acid. The work—hand printed on a Charles Brand industrial printing press manufactured in New York City—was executed in oil base etching inks on RivesBFK white paper. The print measured about 11 by 15 inches and comes in a frame and archival mat about 12 by 16 inches. This is the first edition of four, and each edition will contain only five etchings. The artist published and printed the work at Fleisher Art Memorial’s Center For Works On Paper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as part of his work within THE OPEN STUDIO IN PRINTMAKING. Fleisher Art is associated with The Philadelphia Museum of Art.
NARRATIVE: Admiral Wilson Boulevard, a two-mile section of U. S. Route 30, opened in 1926 in Camden, New Jersey. It was the first “auto strip” in the United States, originally called Bridge Approach Boulevard, until being renamed in 1929 for Rear Admiral Henry Braid Wilson, a Camden native who served in the Spanish-American and First World Wars. The road had a noteworthy bearing on the development of the South Jersey suburbs and Camden City in the twentieth century. The area even included the first drive-in movie theater in the world.
My mother shot this photo in 1960 from her car. It illustrates how urban planning, especially when merged with commercialistic enterprise, can turn something into “Lipstick on a Pig”, as Mom used to say. By this time the boulevard was lined with strip bars, red-light motels, cocktail lounges, liquor stores, dozens of gas stations, steak houses, nightclubs, neon signs, Cadillac dealerships, hamburger joints, and acres of traffic signs, telephone poles and wires. By 1970 the strip became home to the area’s Ladies of the Evening gliding the boulevard in their nightly trade. In 1973, while undergraduate students at Rutgers University, two colleagues and me completed a research study and multi-media presentation on Admiral Wilson Blvd. and the surrounding highways for a seminar entitled, Phenomenology in Religion, orchestrated by the Rev. Dr. Hugh White. What first appeared comical soon unveiled its shadow-side to our audiences. Today, and as a result of the 2000 Republican National Convention staged in Philadelphia, this stretch of kitch-Americana was destroyed and transported in a rather plastic and artificial way into a verdant backdrop connecting USA’s most impoverished cities to the suburbs of South Jersey. As my mother, a hairdresser and photographer would say. “Politicians always fatten their own pockets while decorating the world with shit. . . pretty shit. . . but still, shit ”
Kitsch, New Jersey, Camden City, 1960, Pollution, Urban Disasters, Highways, Bars, Neon, Original Printmaking, Cityscape Printmaking