Sidewalk Face 1000

Sidewalk Face 1000

Since October 2015 I have posted 1000 sidewalk faces to Instagram. I choose this guy to be number #1000 because he embodies everything I value in the project: 

Pavement

The classic medium of my genre!

Seeing Potential

I like noticing things and examining closely so I turned that into an art practice. That’s how I entertain myself on endless dog walks, traversing the same streets year after year, I look for what is unusual or has changed. It’s my modern urban way of scratching the ancient hunter-gatherer itch. I got excited by the rusted metal pipe remains of his nose. The small things make my day.

Minimal Interference

My personal goal is to do the least to get the most. I try to make them feel as if they emerged on their own from what was naturally there. Sometimes my contribution is artificial and obvious, it’s more important to make a good expression than be austere but it’s part of my ethos to not overwork the image. This one is very minimal and that makes me happy.

Availablism

Wanting a little more detail than the curved sticks were providing, I added additional eye features with spit. That’s availablism. Use what you have. 

Emotional Expression

Some of you may recognize this face from Instagram, first posted in 2017, as #541. I walk by him most days and he looks about the same. However after a nice rain the evaporating water made his halo more pronounced and it was time to do another portrait! I knew right away he was special, such joie de vivre (French for joy of living). As you all know I post as many miserable faces as happy ones. I am always pushing to find greater emotional nuance in cement, sticks, stains and detritus. But whether my characters are content or sad, I am enriched by sharing them with all of you. They may speak to me but it’s when I read how you interpret them that I get my greatest joy. 

How to Make it Super Not Fun

How to Make it Super Not Fun

SWF Post_0569

Take something you love and put it in a cage. Tell it you will set it free when it solves Global Warming or reshoots the final season of GOT.

Wait six months. Wonder why it seems dead.

So I was doing Sidewalk Face for several years and getting pretty darn excited about the body of work I was creating. I was making multiple faces a day, I was posting to Instagram nearly every day and I was starting to have big hope and ideas about THE FUTURE. I was FANTASIZING about possible outcomes. That was actually super fun for a good bit of time. I was going like gang busters, making a website and listening to lots of marketing podcasts. Ask anyone who knows me, I wouldn’t shut up about marketing. Don’t you wish you had been there!

As sometimes happens, I walked right off a cliff. And no, I didn’t see the sign that said Grand Canyon National Park. I was too busy looking down.

It all just suddenly felt like a big hopeless chore. Marketing podcasts are great if you want to market stuff people actually buy like gizmos. But I am not making gizmos. I am making ephemeral faces out of crap because what else the hell are you supposed to do on your 7500th dog walk.

I got depressed. I posted less, I took less photos. I stopped seeing faces everywhere. I felt very concerned.

The one thing I know for sure is that art is my spiritual practice. Art is what gives me joy. I had to find my way back to a practice that was fun and not duty. It got me pondering what exactly fun is and why do I value it.

I am writing about that this week. Tune in tomorrow for my post called What is Fun?.