Abandoned building next to 994 Atlantic Avenue at Grand Avenue, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

March 2001

This building is next to a car repair shop. When I started making the white underpainting, a man came out of the shop and said, “You from the city?” It turned out he thought the white oval had something to do with repairing the drains. I was sorry to disappoint him. He came back and brought me coffee. All through the day, he brought all of his clients over to meet me. Most of them asked if I was getting paid and were upset that I wasn’t. I sympathized. There was also a consensus that the painting should be bigger and cover the entire wall, but I pointed out that that would be even more work for free.

This painting ended up on the cover of American Letters & Commentary. I think they chose it because the wall it was painted on had so many letters. I know they chose me because my infinitely more talented sister Matthea is their poetry editor.

I made the distance view of this painting into a postcard because I liked it. It’s based on Johannes Flintoe’s Myrhorn, Jostedalen. It was still there when I last looked, probably because the guy next door liked it so much.