(click image to view full painting)
I suffered a serious concussion in the spring of 2017. Alice fell down a rabbit hole; I just fell on the floor. The doctors forbade reading, screens of any sort, and complex thinking (really). I wondered if I might go bonkers – and then I wondered if that was complex thinking. A friend suggested maybe I could paint. It fit with something I had been feeling, so I got an easel, a big pad of drawing paper, and a starter set of acrylic paint tubes. Mindful of the fragility of paper, I asked my partner Shelley to open an Instagram account, call it the Concussion Diaries, and post each painting for me. For my friends following along, it was like a slow motion MRI of my improving brain. I had never painted before and my faculties were pretty compromised. The early pieces were simple strokes of color.
As soon as I had the stamina I moved from the easel to taping 3’ by 5’ pieces of paper to the dining room wall, where I could make big, gestural brush strokes. After I painted off the edge of one painting onto the wall, we started talking about turning a room upstairs into a studio.
Why Night Walk? After the concussion the doctors encouraged regular walking. Since I couldn’t tolerate much sound or light, Shelley and I walked each night. As the symptoms eased, taking photographs with my cell phone regularly interrupted the walks.
I studied Russian language and poetry at Princeton, but I fit in Peter C. Bunnell’s history of photography courses around the edges. Those courses were pure intellectual exhilaration for me. Prof. Bunnell eventually pushed me to take a studio course, for which I bought my first non-instamatic camera - a Yashica MAT, two and a quarter square. With that beloved camera began my attraction to road markings and night photography.
My first photograph of road markings was taken from a parking garage looking over a wall onto the driveway of an estate. I was chased off by a woman in a maid’s uniform. Night photography back then required patience, with a release cord to hold the aperture open for long exposures. After college the cost of analogue photography was prohibitive. Then the Yashica broke down. Twenty-five years later I picked up a cell phone and I could capture what I was seeing in the dark without a tripod or a release cord. Every night, I find myself singing along in my head to Flo Morrissey’s song, “Look at what the light did now.”