Abandoned house on the north side of 231 Front Street, south of Peck Slip near the Fulton Fish Market, Manhattan

January 2001

This building had some sort of gutter disaster, which meant that I got sprayed with freezing water for most of the time that I painted there. No one stopped and spoke to me, except for one man in a suit who asked, redundantly, “Getting wet?”

The painting was based on View at Civita Castellana by Gustaf Palm, and I liked the way my version turned out, so I used it for the cover of the map that I had printed when the project was finished. After all, you can’t have a public art project without a map. Artists Space was very kind and gave me $500 toward the cost of printing the map, which was designed by Jan Baracz. My art dealer, Richard Stewart, also gave me $1,000. We printed three thousand copies of the map and gave them away for free. Paintings that still existed and were accessible were marked by orange ovals on the map. Gray ovals marked the sites of paintings that had been destroyed, damaged, or moved. I also marked sites in gray that I thought might be dangerous to visitors, which was just as well, as I later met some school teachers who had used the maps to take their students on a tour of the city.

I later gave a talk at the Whitney Museum with Karen Jones as part of the “Initial Public Offerings” lecture series that my friend Raina Lampkins-Fielder organized. Afterwards, my art dealer Laurie De Chiara and Moukhtar Kocache went out for a drink to a cigar bar in the neighborhood of the museum. They ran into Mayor Giuliani and they gave him one of the maps. He looked at it and said, “This is the kind of art the city needs,” and signed it and gave it back. I’m not sure if he realized that it was illegal. I still have the map. It’s a bit of a dubious endorsement, but it goes to show that you can get away with a lot if your aesthetics are conservative enough. Of course, this was before Giuliani became the hero of 9/11 and when he was still hated by the art world for his mad response to Chris Ofili’s painting of the Madonna with the elephant turds.

The last time I went by, my painting was still there. The Fish Market will be moving to the Bronx in 2005.