United States of Painting

For the past two weeks I have been trying to memorize the shapes and relationships of the contiguous forty eight states in order to use this knowledge in a series of riffs on Jasper Johns’ iconic encaustic map paintings. Now that I am aware of the shapes of the state’s borders and this information is now in the forefront of my consciousness I am beginning to have some fun seeing state outlines in cracks in the sidewalk and cracked asphalt parking lots and driveways. I go on long walks two or three times a week along city sidewalks from Redwood City to Menlo Park in the San Francisco Bay Area. I usually walk at night. Lately I’ve been finding lots of state shapes in the sidewalk. As you have already guessed, Wyoming turns up a lot, as do Kansas and Colorado as well as the Dakotas but all that is required for a good Vermont / New Hampshire combo is a single sinuous angled crack across one of the Wyomings. I recently found Minnesota, Nevada, Maryland, Idaho, Missouri and new York, South Carolina is quite a common shape. My favorite so far is a Wisconsin / Illinois combo. I recently encountered a broken up asphalt driveway that, while squinting, could be imagined as the entire forty eight!