Door next to 525 Greenwich Street between Spring Street and Van Dam Street, SoHo, Manhattan

February 2001

I really liked this door and its graffiti. It was very bright and cheerful. Lots of people stopped to see what I was doing. Most of them laughed. One elderly couple told me to be careful.

A construction crew was working behind me while I painted. On the second day, one of the men came up to me to see what I was doing. When I looked behind him, I could see all the other construction workers giggling, a bit like teenage girls who have dared one of their friends to talk to a boy. He asked me what I was doing and when I showed him, he asked if I would paint his name into the painting. I explained that I was doing landscapes rather than names. He said that he was called the African Hammer and suggested that I paint a small hammer into the landscape. I asked him why he was called the African Hammer, and he said that it was because he was from Zimbabwe. He didn’t explain about the hammer part and I didn’t paint a hammer into the painting. He was very polite. For the rest of the day, he kept on waving at me each time I turned around, and then all the other workers would laugh.

Perhaps I was intimidated by the niceness of the graffiti, but for some reason this painting wasn’t so successful, I thought. Both the color and the composition didn’t quite work. It’s very loosely based on some nineteenth-century paintings of the Bay of Naples, but I can’t remember which. I think it’s still there.

Absolutely nothing happened here. I just spent two days painting in delicious solitude. I would definitely recommend this alley for illegal activities of all kinds. And, when I last looked, my painting was still there.