I have been working though this painting for several months now… technically the canvas began in 2007 and the image has changed many times. Currently I am using this 36in x 48in stretched surface to explore the phenomenon of the MassPike interstate, as it passes from Newton into Boston.
The incarnation of the interstate highway in the 50’s – 60’s is fascinating - for the lofty vision initiated by Robert Moses, as well as the devastating effects it carried for many communities who lost their homes, businesses, and cultural groundings. Many cities have been stricken by this shortsighted growth, which began as a grand vision for connection, fluidity, and convenience, ending in destruction, congestion, and separation.
From a ground level, human perspective I was drawn to the Interstate-90 (I-90) overpass in Boston at the Massachusettes Avenue bridge. This is a complex transit intersection,; comprised of a Green Line T-Station, where exiting passengers find themselves surfacing from below ground to street level at a vibrant and noisy intersection.
Wizzing across the bridge are cars, buses, bicyclists, skateboarders, and pedestrians. Some people are stationary – waiting for the bus, a friend… or perhaps just for time to pass. Others are moving hurriedly with a purpose, a destination, someplace to be and very little time to get there.
Sitting on a bench across the street, a lone guitar picks at a struggling melody, barely audible over passing engines and bands of car horns filling the air.
I turn left out of the subway door, and am immediately sucked into a vortex of lights and the whooshing of autos passing beneath my feet. This excavated trench with cars traveling at high speeds feels almost futuristic. I am watching a light show – of white and red. The exposed beams just in front of me are glowing warm light beneath.
Looking the other way, I see a river of color describing the contours of the city. The streams of light disappear far in the distance as they are absorbed by dark looming structures, reminiscent of a great canyon.
The sky beyond holds brilliant bands of warm yellows, pinks, and reds, radiating from an intense point along the distant horizon.
I am unsure as to what is captivating my attention in this overwhelming sensory experience. There are sounds of life all around, gusts of wind as large trucks pass beneath, lights glowing and flashing in every direction, and the smell of musky cologne as a couple returns to the subway after having spent their evening swooning over the smooth melodies of string and brass.
I focus my attention on the view before me:
At first it is the sharp horizon line described by the geometric canyon.
But this could only hold it’s edge with the radiating bands of color beyond. Setting oh, so slowly.
My attention follows a series of directional lines, metal edging which provide a strong sense of perspective and depth at the base of the canyon.
With graphic studies I try to pull out aspects of this view and experience, to better understand the essential elements of this experience to include in my painting. Currently it the painting is overwhelmed with an excess of sensory elements… similarly to how I feel every time I step onto that overpass. There is an immediate rush of adrenaline as I am hit by the sounds and smells and feeling of exposure – standing over the canyon.
I imagine the canyon as something other than an auto-route… perhaps it transforms into an ecological corridor, a recovered extension of the historic bay area. Providing a corridor of flux for the rising and setting tides, and softening the hard edges of this overwhelming experience.