May 02, 2013

A Bit More On Baron Von Fancy

Born and raised in New York City, I have been surrounded by commercial signs all my life. You can't avoid them. That's one of the features of walking down the streets here that I love. You're never alone. Someone is always talking to you--shouting at you in silent type.  Sadly, the old hand-painted signs are disappearing.  In my neighborhood, the bold lettering on buildings downtown has been exposed as the buildings are renovated and you get a sense of what the old hand-painted city used to look like.

Nothing is hand-painted anymore; instead computer generated generic fonts are everywhere. National and international chain stores and restaurants have replaced the local establishments and with them has come monotonous “branding.”  The individual touch that made the identity and message of a business unique and interesting to look at is all but gone. Everyone is emulating the new Times Square.

My work is an homage to an older New York and meant to honor the sign-painter artists who plastered the city with words. I do not consider myself a sign painter, though, because I only paint phrases that appeal to me. I am more like a collector or a collagist, in an American art tradition that includes Walker Evans and Ed Ruscha. Most of the phrases I use are pseudo-clichés, tongue-in-cheek aphorisms that I overhear in my daily life--in conversations, on the subway, on television and radio, or waiting for the walk light to change when someone is talking on their mobile phone. A string of words said by someone I don't know, and who has probably not thought about them, is transformed when I paint them.  I give them my personal touch.