Traffic-control box on the corner of West 96th Street and West End Avenue, Upper West Side, Manhattan

November 2000

For some reason, traffic-control boxes are always covered with graffiti scribbles, so I thought no one would object to my adding a painting – especially one based on Carl Rottman’s very pretty Taormina with Mt. Etna.

This was a busy corner, and lots of people walked past me during the two days I spent painting, but only one man asked me what I was doing. He seemed confused by my answer.

Someone wrote to Daniel Schneider, who writes the FYI column in the City section of The New York Times, to ask why there was a landscape on the traffic-control box. He found me because at that point I had shown photographs of some of the paintings at GAle GAtes et al. I liked Daniel’s explanation of the project, but the best thing was that the other question that he answered in the column was: “What was the biggest explosion ever in New York City?” Afterwards other people started to write about the paintings, claiming that they had seen them on the street, which seemed unlikely. I still wonder who originally wrote to Daniel.

When I came back to photograph the painting the next day, there had been a big snowstorm, which had abraded the paint. I was sad because I thought it was one of the better paintings I’d done at that point. Of course, once they repainted the traffic box, it was gone anyway.