Street Scene: An Exhibition

When you see the homeless do you look the other way?

"Street Scene": An Exhibition by D. "Darteo" Sommese

Living in San Francisco, as I was when I painted "Street Scene" and any other American city for that matter, one can not avoid confronting the homeless who seem to inhabit storefronts, doorways, and park benches everywhere. It is not unusual to see them sleeping or begging in all the finest shopping districts. Like ghosts, or the walking dead they haunt our cities.

What is especially horrible is how we all effectively ignore their presence. How can society ignore the horror of allowing the mentally ill and poverty stricken to live, beg, and sleep in our streets? Where is the America of my youth? What demonic dream is this? How can our society consider it humane to allow it's fellow citizens to live in the streets? Where are these people relatives? The mothers, the fathers, the sisters, the brothers, where have they gone?

I ask these questions in paint as I record the few individuals I managed to capture on film and transfer to acrylic paint and canvas? I chose these denizens of the street as the subject of my work for this project. Street people might be a better descriptive definition of the subject matter I am painting, because it is not only the homeless, but the whores, the hustlers, and the well to do that I include in this body of work.

I use paint to exorcise these images from my mind. I use paint to record these images and say this is what went on in my time. I use paint to point the finger and shout out in the streets like a mad man, ....."the sky is falling somebody fix it, please ! "

"Street life" which is the center piece of my "Street Scene" Exhibition, measures approximately 6 feet by 18 feet long. It's a tableau of alienation and isolation. The models are all actors in the drama of life, some actors play themselves, others act as representations of the characters or archetype I found interesting, or who's image I found compelling in some way. They represent the types of people I see on the street. Some live on the streets, some work on the street, some use the street to get from one place to the other. All have a story worth telling.

The show looks fantastic in the gallery. I also made a video of this show. The wild colorful background attracts the eye and delights the senses. It appeals to the common man as well as the intellectual. It has never failed to initiate the dialog among the people that come to view it. The subject matter is not one of our shinning cultural moments however, but it is an issue that must be addressed.

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