495 West 37th Street at Ninth Avenue, Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan

February 2001

This was a nice, derelict part of the street. Several men were sitting on the sidewalk, and they kept coming by to look at the painting and then to piss against the wall. Fortunately, the cold weather meant that it didn’t smell too bad.

Because there had been a “Mory Story” human-interest piece about my New York Beautification Project on Channel One, after the first piece appeared in The New York Times, one man came up to me and said, “You’re the lady from the television,” and asked me to sign a paper bag for his daughter. I was embarrassed by seeing myself on television. I thought I looked ridiculous. Fortunately, it was only for about four minutes. I much preferred being on the radio. I hate being photographed or filmed.

I felt quite nervous painting here, because it was so exposed. A surprising number of police cars kept passing by. At one point, a police car stopped and the officer got out and asked me if I had permission. I lied and said yes. Luckily, it was Sunday, and there was no way of checking because the store next to the wall was closed. He told me that he hoped I was telling the truth and that, if I wasn’t, he hadn’t seen me, which was very kind of him. I decided then to finish the painting that day. Later, I realized that there was a police station just around the block.

The painting is based on Johan Thomas Lundbye’s Goose Tower. I’m not really sure what the tower has to do with geese, though. The painting was still there when I looked a couple months ago.