Self-Portrait, Back Bay

 Self-Portrait, Back Bay; Oil on Board; 10" x 8"; 2004

Last night at a cd release party for the band Library Science, I watched transfixed as pink, yellow and white stripes zipped and unzipped mountain roads, a man ran and ran impossible distances to a Nike-esque slogan of "DO IT TO IT", and pacman-like digital critters swirled and bumped in fluorescent colors behind the band's infectious beats.

One of the repeating themes was a little man who waved his arms. He was rendered in nothing but a few large, white squares, so that his arms moved up and down as a series of blocks arranged in steps. I couldn't help thinking it looked familiar.

I made this self-portrait after a trip to Boston. I asked my husband to take a picture of me standing in front of Star Market, round the corner from 84 The Fenway, where I lived for a year while going to Boston University. Star Market (pronounced locally of course as "Stah Mahket") was in the lower half of a building surmounted by a spiraling parking garage my roommate and I dubbed the Guggenheim Shopping Museum. 

I wanted the picture so I could send it to my roommate, if I could find her. It was pre-Facebook.

Around that time, I had recently developed my language of verticals and horizontals, and I was playing with the possibilities suggested by the constraints of the idea. How far could I take it? Could it be applied to people??

I thought it best to experiment on myself. 

On a cold and gleeful January day during a residency in Port Townsend, Washington, I turned my eye to that goofily stiff photograph. The result was this little tin soldier portrait, holding a shopping bag and wearing my then-favorite red hooded jacket. I painted it directly, with no underpainting (I had Morandi's brushy strokes over white canvas in mind) and very little modulation of the paint.

Several of my other Squarescapes contain small figures as part of the scene, but this picture remains the only one I ever did featuring a person. It hangs in the home of dear friends in California.