Truckers in traffic: The art of abstraction is freeway close.
I guess you could call me obsessed. The Oxford dictionary says I would be labeled as such if I became “preoccupied with something… continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent.” Guilty.
I can’t help it. I see 18-wheelers or old farm trucks and I’m sucked into a visual vortex: patterns of rusty holes, peeling paint, and flatbed piles worthy of a classic episode Sanford and Son. In these fleeting images I catch glimpses of stunning abstract art — some reminiscent of work shown in the world’s most prestigious contemporary collections and auction houses.
Finding the beauty:
In my corporate workshops I always stress the importance of really looking around us. It’s become an annoying habit for anyone driving with me, because I’ve been known to engage in some light tailgating to get the shot I need. But if you make looking a habit, you will discover art in the most curious places. I happen to find expressways and side streets a great place to start. You’ll see quirky patterns and textures — and quite often, the making for a spectacular abstract-expressionist work of art.
Two cases in point: On a recent visit to an automotive junkyard in Saticoy, California, I encountered a graveyard for old trucks, trailers, and box cars. They were all piled high and strewn about. I was mesmerized by the geometry and contrast in color. The delicate patinas of blues and browns reminded me of the work of iconic Russian-American painter Mark Rothko (Pic #3). Then — popping out from the mountains of metal — bold primary colors you might only see on race cars or lunch boxes. (Pic #4)
The same week I shot the back of a rusty white truck, I also encountered a chillingly similar painting in the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA that I had never noticed before (Pic # 5). The artist is a Spanish abstract painter named Antoni Tapies. The piece is called “All White, Number 2”– painted in 1955. The truck image was captured on the 101, passing through the San Fernando Valley in 2011.
It doesn’t matter which came first– it does enrich us if we notice both.