This was one of my jobs – removing asbestos from the ceiling of the Baker Library at Dartmouth College. On the walls of the library was a great mural, The Epic of American Civilization, by José Celemente Orozco. In homage to Orozco, I copied a portion of his mural into my painting, making sure to add Orozco’s name at the bottom of the mural.
This is a scene from the old Caffe Paradiso in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA. I spent many hours there — meditative, social, and delicious. In this painting, I wanted to portray the cafe as a customer would see it, with all the tantalizing food displayed in the cases, and also as the worker sees it, with all the dirty dishes piled up beneath the cash register.
These are four jobs I worked at over a time-span of several years — coffee bean shop, bookstore, ice cream parlor, and drugstore — and they all happened to be a couple of blocks from each other. I consider this my “post-modern” painting. The distances in time and space are conflated into a single surface.
This was painted outdoors during an ArtsCentral event in Cambridge, MA, so that passers-by could watch and talk to artists at work. I made it a point to request a spot next to the Asmara Restaurant, so that I could take a break from painting to enjoy great Ethiopian food.
I don’t sign a painting until I consider it finished. I signed this one and went to sleep. That night, I dreamt of six specific changes to make to the painting – small things, but very particular. Make one of the greens in the corner more neutral. Make the circular shape in the center more triangular. When I woke up, I remembered all six changes and immediately made the changes to the painting. The painting had been merely acceptable; now it held together with consistency and without distraction, a serene representation of the scenery.
In the kindest interpretation, these are two aspects of one person. There is the casual one in a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers, eating a slice of pizza. Then there is the formal one in jacket, slacks and shoes, holding a glass of wine, and surrounded by elegant furnishings. However, as the title implies, the casual one becomes an impersonator when he steps into the other’s shoes. And while he can spend some small amount of time enjoying a richer lifestyle, it is not his authentic self, to which he eventually returns.