Clayton Hamilton, a retired AT&T employee and artist, has been painting on the same “canvas” for thirty years. That “canvas” is a four-foot tall and 100-foot wide retaining wall in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In 1988, Hamilton was living across from a liquor store and a Church’s Chicken in a community primarily populated by people of color. He noticed often that his neighborhood was full of billboards advertising cigarettes, beer and liquor. The retaining wall was often a place where trash was piled – until, that is, Hamilton decided to start using it to send positive messages to his neighbors. The first painting, created in red, black and green, commented on the billboards that concerned Hamilton. The 1988 text read: BE STRONG, BE PROUD...DON’T FALL PRAY”. For 30 years, Hamilton has painted on the retaining wall. No one has ever defaced a phrase written.
Hamilton later transferred his art onto “planks”—messages and questions on movable boards. Hamilton says his works are “just humanistic insights that everybody probably has… I have a big tapestry. I make statements that maybe people would be interested in, maybe they won’t.” Hamilton may be right. But a few things are certain: his questions and sentiments are thought-provoking, sometimes uncomfortable, and always necessary.
Long-Sharp Gallery presents a pop-up exhibit of Hamilton’s “planks” in its New York Project Space to share Hamilton’s questions with the Big Apple. The short but powerful exhibit takes place August 22 to August 31, 2018. Approximately 15 of Hamilton’s planks will be exhibited.