The Billboard Situation


From Across 42nd Street

Visitors through my gallery are fascinated by my billboard painting history. What’s not to love. Here are these mammoth things that we grew up surprised by, then hating, then saw them transformed into American ingenuity with humor, and sexy, thrilling, delightful, annoying, intriguing attention grabbers.

When I was lucky enough to work with Paul Chan, a fantastically skilled New York artist who did the Rolling Stones World Tour ’73 turbo eagle, it was all exciting education. He was like that old Disney tv show intro where a loaded brush swept across the screen and finished paintings appeared in its wake. So fast, and so good. Paul, working alone, did the King Kong billboard right on the side of a high 42nd Street building, one that kind of stood out and alone across from the Greyhound Bus station in the west 40’s. I’d make special trips to watch him paint, and see it quickly emerge. It had to be 10, maybe 15 stories high. Brilliantly done. What an image that was, actually got Manhattanites to look up. Not everything meets that challenge in that town. I wish I’d taken photographs of all the billboards I worked on. Never thought of it for some reason. I was lucky with the Stone’s billboard, dating a Japanese photographer at the time who was very impressed with what his girlfriend was up to.

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