“…a city of soft-drink signs; the streets of forlorn neighborhoods are paved with Coca-Cola caps, and after rain, they glint in the dust like lost dimes. Posters peel away, lie mangled until storm winds blow them along the street, like desert sage –and there are those who think them beautiful…”
Truman Capote was referring to New Orleans when he wrote this, but it could have been many a town in America; many a town that has been forgotten as people move on to shopping malls, megastores, and unremarkable typography. To me it is about Bremerton with its deserted streets and remnants of the past. There is a strange charm in this town with its classic American signage — some faded and peeling, others adorning thriving businesses. There are those signs that I hope will never disappear, like the cartoon crow looking down from his neon nest, and the most endearing of all Bremerton icons: the baker holding that pink delight and letting me know this is the home of the pink champagne cake!
“When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This to the practical man is not difficult. He has a built in garden of reasons to choose from.”
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley
The American road trip is still a strange and exotic experience. When you get off the interstates (whose sole purpose is to move vehicles as quickly as possible) and get onto the old highways, you will find a roadside garden. From buildings shaped like coffee pots to giant neon daffodils, there are all sorts of surreal wonders designed to lure the traveler. Hospitable promises of “friendly natives” and “free coffee”, glittering arrows and cartoon crows; its America’s peculiar mix of commercialism and folk art.
These paintings are a collection of local roadside attractions (some famous and some infamous), from Tacoma to Seattle and many Highway 99 gems. As a painter I have the luxury of weeding out the encroaching homogeneity of chain stores and clutter, and magnifying what is unique. The results are still and lonesome scenes of deserted streets and odd artifacts, and of course, the American automobile.