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The Art

Pieces by Sammy Smith.

When I laid everything out on the floor, like some sort of crime scene investigation with clues to people’s drunken pasts, what struck me most was color.

You would think writing on the bar bathroom wall would be just a scribble on a dingy beige toilet paper dispenser, a scratch on the pantone grey stall. Yes, at times, they were written in stark black against the natural canvas of the restroom, like one of my favorites “You Look O.K. You Are Brown Paint Accept It” But there were also dazzling layers of color and context: silver sharpie on pink background, orange on blue and green, red on black and black on red, old layers of paint popping through, spray paint soaring over, lipstick on corrugated board, pencil tips broken into plaster. These images weren’t just occupying my mind with their words. They were catching my eye long after the last drink.

I needed to blow them up. Who is this person with a bright orange sharpie in their pocket who still Loves Someone Special? And even now I’ve forgotten how small these original messages were. I went back to Lucky 13 many years after I photographed “I Have A Vagina, Will Travel” and there it still was, but hidden between the trashcan and the door jam.  

The 3” square was my first inspiration to uncover all the brilliant layers of not only wit and sarcasm but also depth.  It was only when I began to expand these messages, I could see the full spectrum of everyone’s colors, the subtext of their thoughts. I think you’ll agree they deserve to be this size. They deserve to be lit up.