Painting Dots from Parking Lots

Suburban parking lot Suburban lights parking lot lights

In the suburbs where we currently make our home, there are many, many wide open expanses of parking lot within a short driving distance. Mostly, I dislike these spaces. They are bland and purposeless beyond horizontally stacking cars in fading grids, and they are colorless, design-less fields of empty. Even the trees are an afterthought, a conceit that yes most spaces have trees, so we shall cover up the blank ugliness for a bit with a few deciduous specimens to try and mimic a bit of nature.

But since moving here, I have started to walk these spaces more and more, and in some small way at lest started to find some joy in them.

There is a bizarre kind of game or sickness that people indulge here in which they always try to park very close to the buildings they want to enter. People seem to know inherently that these are boring afterthoughts of a space, and they want little to do with them. So they park close, run into wherever they are going, then run out, and get on to wherever they intend to be. Perhaps. For who? for what?

I try to take a different tack, parking further away. Walking the space, and getting a feel for it. Is it lovely? Yeah, no. There is little that appeals save for the lines of cracks in the macadam and the obstinate weeds and wildflowers that poke through. But there is also the sense of traversing a weirdly geometric void. Lines, dots, and rectangles dominate. And I do love the dots of all the lights at dusk.  I’ve started to enjoy the walk more and more. The breaking down of spaces to nature’s return, and the mix of emptiness, dots, and manicured tree blobs. Yes it is ugly, but still there is a bit of something that only reveals itself when you walk through them slow.

I start to see some of these forms showing up in my paintings. All those dots especially. Far off electrics, just ringing their tune on and on.

But I don’t romanticize these spaces. I rejoice in their decay, long for them and the cars that birthed them to fade into irrelevant past. Replacing cars with more sensible, sensual, and beautiful public transportation. That could lead to more playful, interesting, and enjoyable open spaces –I would just keep the lights.