Thursday, December 7, 2017

Bandit's Roost

“Bandit’s Roost” is an image that has absorbed me for a good six years. The original photograph was taken by Jacob Riis around the turn of the century in New York. Riis was one of the pioneers of socially conscious photography. He documented and exposed things that blew peoples minds back then. At that time people weren’t as familiar as we are with the apparatus of photography and when he set up his equipment in the perilous back alleys of New York the thugs he caught in their natural environment had no idea what he was up to. Suddenly – Ka-Boom! The explosive flash powder of those days went off, rendering everyone momentarily (and conveniently) blind, allowing him and his assistant to make off with the equipment before the bandits could recover enough to beat him up.
What I like about painting these images (besides the cool time travel factor) is the wonderful psychology of the faces – their stance – these are real people – survivors, somewhat like the New Yorkers of today. I often have to work on these painting for months at a time, they tend to be labor intensive, but there is a kind of partnership which forms between me and the image, as long as I stay close to it, I’m O.K. I can’t do anything wrong.

Bandit's Roost (drawing)
Bandit's Roost #1
Bandit's Roost #2
Bandit's Roost #3
Bandit's Roost #4
Baxter Alley, drawing
Baxter Alley
Mullen's Alley