It was on a long wander that I began to really appreciate the patina of urban grunge. Stickers placed all over things from former telephone booths to the backs of pedestrian signals, hundreds of nails and staples in a light post, “take one” affirmations, random cocks and balls, dripping paint. Though when I first had moved to Long Beach I was disgusted by all the texture, dirt, and disorder, I came to discover it all had a sort of appeal and beauty.
Years later I’d take an art history class. I’d fall in love with Pollock–a somewhat natural progression from my first artistic love, Vincent VanGogh. I’d stare confusedly at Rothko wondering why the hell he was in a museum at all. Duchamp, Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns would capture my mind.
And then it happened that in a magazine editing class, I’d have to come up with a concept for a 6-page fold. My professor, an editor at a prominent L.A. publication called my concept “gold,” which was her ultimate seal of approval of anything good in the class. My concept of the urban Rothko–surfaces painted over with mismatched paint (particularly those just barely off)–was born.
And suddenly, my misunderstanding of Rothko was gone. I had a tender spot for the fellow. And now I’m slightly obsessed with finding impostors of his work out there in the world.
But there weren’t only Rothkos. There were also Rauschenberg-reminiscent drips; oddly placed nick-knacks taking on another meaning in a strange outdoor environment, whispering Duchamp as I walked by. Phallic Cy Twomblys are among my favorite to discover.
In March of this year, I decided to launch an Instagram account called @urban_rothkenberg. I began capturing these one-off masterpieces and with them began writing miniature fragments of imaginary lives and moments. Call it micro-fiction if you will. It’s become just as much fun to write as it is to capture the photos.
I’ve decided to share the posts once a month in an entry, along with the originally paired Instagram captions.
Here, you can not only see details of the spaces in which I most like to wander, and the space in my mind where my creativity rambles (as you could just by following on Instagram), but you can read a reflective blurb about the mental space I was in while creating the posts that month.
I hope you’ll enjoy these little safaris!