Question: What kind of unusual experience have you had while doing pavement art?
Answer: There have been many unusual experiences, especially in the early years when the art form was not as well known. Some of the stories can be found in my book, Asphalt Renaissance, but here is another:
In Geneva, Switzerland, I worked on an anamorphic work that was the synthesis of my anamorphic studies. I had tried a similar work before in Rome, but after having the image destroyed by rain prior to completion for a period of 6 weeks, I was prepared to try a new technique. The work would take a minimum of 10 days to complete, and I knew that in Switzerland the chances of not getting rained out were slim, even in the summer. I had two canvases sewn together at a tent shop and prepared them with a mix of acrylic paint and pumice to accept pastel color. I mounted two PVC tubes to the roof of my camper van to carry the rolled canvas, and was ready to go. I then found that it was possible to prepare the tape that bordered the canvas with the same paint preparation and thereby work seamlessly between the canvas surface and the pavement. To passers-by, the work appeared as an inexplicable hole with foreign bodies attempting to crawl out.
The image was so unusual that many pedestrians inquired if I had a postcard or photo of it for sale. I decided to photograph the painting at the end of each day and order multiple copies from a one-hour photo lab. I was not comfortable with selling anything on the street, as selling came under a different set of laws and would certainly have been illegal without a license. Instead I chalked the message “free with any offer” and trusted the Swiss to be generous. This plan turned out to be a huge success and I returned to the lab for a new batch of photos each morning, moving several hundred of them over the course of a few days.
One day a woman passed my site and said she needed desperately to buy a photo of the work. She needed this photo to prove to her husband she wasn’t insane. She had described my work, (with tortured souls crawling out of the ground), in great detail to her husband. She had insisted that he couldn’t miss what appeared to be a large hole in the street, but her husband had come during the evening and found nothing that fit her description. The following day, seeing that I was working on the picture exactly where I’d been the day before, she assumed that her husband had not looked in the right place. That evening she sent him back, and again he returned home never having seen the painting, despite a very detailed description.
Relieved to have a photograph in her hand, she then went on her way. I didn’t quite have the courage to tell her the image was on a canvas and I took it, as usual, with me at the end of the day. The next morning when I arrived at the spot I saw that the corner where I had been working was completely torn up and a gigantic real hole had been created exactly where picture had been. I wondered what the woman’s husband thought when he returned to the spot. It was truly lucky for her that she had obtained the photo.