Neighborhood: West Harlem
I called this painting “Manhattan Born” because the original text on these manholes is Manhattan BRO. There are not many Manhattan BRO manholes of this type. The most common ones are Manhattan BPW. I was drawn to it by the way its text works: the BORN is the end of Manhattan when you actually look at the manhole. I also liked its text and the patterns.
It took me a long time to find this manhole. Actually, not find it. While working on this series, I noticed that if I found a manhole in the middle of the street, there was usually another one on the sidewalk somewhere in the neighborhood. I refer to this pairing as the Brother/Sister Manhole Principle. Often I had no difficulty finding the manhole in the middle of the street, but usually had to look for the one on the sidewalk before I painted it. For this one, I could not find the one on the sidewalk. Struggling to find it, I asked people around the area if they knew where it was. No one knew and most thought I was crazy looking for a manhole.
Someone told me that the City closes the street for the children in the neighborhood to play. At the time, I didn’t think that this would interfere with my work. However, on the day that I went to paint, the manhole had just been re-tarred and some of the kids playing in the street took my paints and started to paint me as I worked. As the day and my painting progressed, the kids started to get involved in my work. This was fine until they got crazy and started spilling paint all over it. I still remember one little girl who actually poured water all over my painting! But, when I was finished, it all came together. If you look closely at the painting, you can see black spots. These spots are actually tar. I like to highlight my work with what I call metal colors. This one is highlighted with gold colors. (sold)