The concept behind “Quality Remains” started simply enough, with the basic idea of finding a way to combine two of my professional pursuits, sign painting and printmaking. Butte, Montana is full of fantastic ghost signs from the first half of the 20th Century, seemingly more concentrated, and in better condition than signs of the same era in other cities. These signs still speak to passersby, even after the advertised business has closed, perhaps a half a century ago or longer. Some are but a whisper of their former self, but the words are still there, if you look just right, still clinging to their brick, wood, and stucco canvases. The title of the show comes from a painting I made in 2013 which contained the same phrase. Much of my work relies heavily on wordplay, and I'm intrigued that the word "remains" can act as both a verb and a noun within the context of the collection.
I wanted to create an alternate life for the buildings pictured. The imagery created for each is not really a sign, but not necessarily a mural either, simply a message. The screenprinting process allowed me to further veer from true reality: all prints are 3 or 4 colors, but none are printed in the standard, CMYK process. Building colors are bent slightly outside the norm, cloudless skies are reduced to flat, vivid blue hues. In some cases, it seems as though the words on a building could have been imagined by the building itself; a message to reach out to the always-moving world around it, as it remains anchored to its foundation.
Lastly, this show allowed me an opportunity to re-explore Portland, after moving away in September 2016. The buildings were all photographed during a quick visit in June 2017. Specific buildings may be instantly recognizable by those who live or work nearby, but my hope for the set as a whole was to make the world these buildings live in to be fairly place-less, to avoid the trap of making an obvious, self-referential, Portland collection.