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. 

Happy Anniversary Sidewalk Faces!

Today is the one year anniversary of my first Sidewalk Face post on Instagram. I posted 317 faces in my first year. More actually as I posted a bunch from Joshua Tree, CA and Hawaii but I didn’t label them as Sidewalk Faces because they were not near my sidewalk.

When I started I did not have rules. But over the year these are the rules that emerged.

Sidewalk Face Rules

#1 – They must be good.

#2 – They must be made from materials in the immediate proximity.

#3 – They must be made quickly.

GOOD

I would like them to be good. That doesn’t mean they are all good. I only post 1 out of every 3 or 4 that I make. I consider them good if they show personality and emotion, and if they are different or better than what I have already made. If I see something in the environment that I haven’t see before (such as a cracked egg ) I feel like I really must try and make a face out of it. This often supersedes rule #3. The more desperately I need to get back, the more interesting the item I will find on my way home.

Sidewalk Face_Egg.jpg

MATERIALS

I only use stuff I find around me. I do sometimes see something like a piece of dirty styrofoam or anything that could be an eye, pick it up and carry it with me looking for a good way to use it. If it is shot within walking distance of my Los Angeles home (90%+ are) then the materials came from my neighborhood. I consider it particularly great if everything comes from within a few feet but the first rule is more important than the proximity rule. Everything I shot in Hawaii was from Hawaii. Same for the desert. If I make some in another city I will only use materials from there.

TIME

I usually spend 5 to 10 minutes making each one. I’m not totally sure about that as I don’t wear a watch or keep track. But I only have so much time and the dogs only have so much patience. Occasionally I’ve made one, walked on to find an object that would make the face better and doubled back for a re-do, usually to the intense annoyance of both myself and the dogs but rule #1 is the most important rule.

Here is how it starts, I spot something of interest; a shape, a stain, an abandoned object, a butterfly. I ask myself what I could do with it, could it be a nose, a mustache, a head, a critter? Then I look for what else is needed, additional parts or a background. I usually go with my first instinct, my first choice. If I place the butterfly in the middle of that cracked pavement, I don’t place it anywhere else. I don’t want to over think my decisions because for me personally, thinking and originality are often inversely correlated. My thoughts aren’t that interesting but somehow my actions are. That’s why I do it, to surprise myself.

sidewalk-face_butterfly-mustache

I am looking forward to another year of this project. Many people have sent me faces they have made and that inspires me to keep going. Hunting for new faces makes every outing an adventure. It’s never a dull day.

You can see all of my Sidewalk Faces on Instagram at:

https://www.instagram.com/eaglecrowowl/