Tom Sanford just might be todays urban Norman Rockwell. Like the famed painter from the mid 1900’s Sanford is concerned with American culture. From paintings of famed rappers such as Tupac to history paintings featuring sleazy right wing radio hosts, Sanford documents, interprets and comments on the American psyche.
For his latest show opening this Saturday at Kravets|Wehby Sanford painted the famous, eccentric, historical, powerful and colorful residents of New York City that inspire him. Film maker Spike Lee, street artist Steven Powers, and even Mayor Bloomberg make appearances in paintings that shift from smooth graphic rendering to impasto patterning.
“I didn’t grow up in New York City but I moved here to attend Columbia at eighteen. I remember around that time my grandfather told me that “When you leave Broadway you’re camping out.” I have been here (pretty much) ever since, and I plan to stay. I relate to Dylan Ebdus in Lethem’s “The Fortress of Solitude.” I feel like I am missing it all, between my pathological devotion to my studio and my daddy duties I can go days without leaving home at all, and sometimes weeks without getting on the subway. But I need New York City. I feed of the culture. All the amazing people who inhabit this magical place, doing fantastic things. They create an energy, or perhaps an anxiety, that nourishes me and I must be close to the source. Hopefully I am contributing that energy as well.
For this show I made New York genre paintings, portraits and scenes of ordinary life in my city. The portraits are of some of the thousands of New Yorkers that make this place so rich. These are people that I associate very strongly with New York and the city’s culture. Some of them are people I have met, some I know, some I have just seen at a deli or on the street. –Tom Sanford