City Walls

It happened innocently enough, I was walking with my camera down an alley on Music Row in Nashville, when I spied a fading image on an electrical box with a text overlay.  The image long forgotten by whoever posted it there was marked by years of weather eroding the surface. A curious collaboration of unintended consequences created a collage and it was just waiting for me to notice the beauty of it, the magic of this juxtaposition. 

That was 2007, and since then I have walked the streets of cities in 25 states in search of this type of image. By car, I have driven the entire southern half of the country from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific coast. By plane, I have ventured to larger cities on the east coast. Travelling, walking unknown paths, talking to strangers, staying with friends and in cheap motels, visiting museums to look at art - all of this becomes part of the quest to find images.

Spurred on by the success of Basquiat, Bansky, and Fairey, a fugitive art style now flourishes in most urban areas. I enjoy the challenge of searching a new city for the area of town where this culture exists. As a photographer, my aim is not to document this work, but to engage with it and find beauty in the random interactions between the city, people, weather, and time. Yet even as I say this I recognize that I am also gathering the beat of the street on that day in that city, and recording the marks of the people that live there, and their joys, fears, concerns, and celebrations.

There is a tradition of recording the arbitrary marks on city walls, which includes work by such notable photographers as Brassai, Walker Evans, Helen Levitt, and Aaron Siskind. Urban areas are in a constant state of flux and each generation's mark making is unique to their age. In this body of work, I am concerned with photographing the results of chance encounters between posting, tagging, painting, taping, and gluing on city walls and the eventual decay of this activity - and with rendering the temporary permanent.

This is an on-going body of work. The images are straight photographs. I shoot with a miniature hand-held camera and a macro lens, focusing close on small fragments of the world sometimes no more than 2 inches in scale. The printed photographs are small fragments of the world that are greatly magnified, and for me reveal a visual alchemy.