This is one one of my most successful downtown paintings and I owe part of its success to the election of Barack Obama. I've painted three pictures here. I enjoy the contrast of the modern buildings across Broadway with the old buildings which are reminiscent, as John Protopapas once remarked, of the towers of San Gimignano in Tuscany. But it's a difficult place to work. The bus stop and BART attract large crowds. And there are a smattering of extremely disturbed people who become belligerent for no particular reason except that I'm here and that I can't leave without abandoning my canvas.
The first two paintings suffered from these distractions but this painting was lifted by a tide of enthusiasm that began rising in the days before the election when crowds of students who would usually stop and pepper me with a staccato of questions and wisecracks instead marched in orderly ranks down Broadway campaigning for Obama.
As the election approached it seemed that a weight was being lifted off everyone's shoulders. Even the malcontents eased up. The day after the election the light in people's eyes was contagious. It seemed to spill over into my painting. Spontaneous exclamations of 'Obama!' rang out on Broadway as people were unable to contain their joy.
A couple of days later a big man in an Obama t-shirt asked if I'd like to put him in my painting. I said 'sure' and asked him to pose with the Tribune tower behind him. After I'd finished he told me he'd just got out of jail. "What were you in for?" I asked "Somethin stupid, but I won't make that mistake again. I'm gonna turn my life around." He smiled at me gently and I believed him.