Synopses & Reviews
In photos, drawings and words, Sign Language pays homage to the lost art of urban outdoor sign painting. In a working environment both novel and ambitious, author John S. Paul found success, noting, "No other job gave me such a direct impact on the urban landscape, or such physical engagement. Painting signs over Broadway in 1984 was a rare look down from the elevated height of a heroic messenger." Few books have ever provided such an insider perspective into this unique livelihood of days past. In 40 photos and 30 poems and stories, the author creates an immersion into a rarefied world on danger and beauty, raising the sense of the importance of moments and blurring the boundary between public and private space.
and#147;The assortment of photos and drawings . . . illuminated the text and gave deeper meaning. Rarely have I seen a collection of poetry that created such a cohesive end product.and#8221;
and#151;Randy-Lynne Wach, San Francisco Book Review
"Sign Languageand#160;is the work of a singularly interesting and engaged mind: No one sees the world as John S. Paul sees it. The distinctiveness of his vision is viscerally evident in his words and his images, where beauty and grittiness, anxiety and repose, all mix and merge to create something altogether new. This honest, stunning book will make you see the world differently, too." and#151;Rosie Schaap, author ofand#160;Drinking With Men
"Paul has managed a high wire act, both exploring and documenting his existence with grace and poetry, and, like a good tightrope walker, has done it without a net." - Bradley Rubenstein, Culture Catch
"The mark of creation is its flow. I see in the work of John Pauland#160;the perception that is this flow.and#160;To flying over the work with the aplomb of such perception and#150; which is what creation is all about!"and#160;and#151;Knox Martin, artist
"it is a vivid portrayal of a trade and city, of the distance between working and careering, and the eternal desire to finish painting before sunset." and#151;Steve Powers, artist
"John Paul answers the question Is there life on Mars? by serving us Breakfast on Mars, only Mars turns out to be someplace very down-to-earth. Thankfully we are invited to share his perceptions: "we spy the weather / with foxy eyes.and#8221; We are whoever he is, high above the storied metropolis, which he sees as painter, photographer, and poet." --Victor Katz, author of The Complete Elegies Of Sextus Propertius; editor of VANITAS
About the Author
John S. Paul
came to New York City in 1972 from Chicago, and is still Midwestern at heart. He studied at Washington University, St. Louis, where emphasis was placed on craft, grounded in the canons of German expressionism and the Bauhaus. He went on to Yale for an MFA, where modernism was key. Later, in San Francisco, he attached himself to a drawing group with Elmer Bischoff, Joan Brown, and George Lloyd, where he focused on mural sized landscapes of California scenery.
Relocating to New York, he turned to portrait and simple genre painting: still life, interior, bathed in the beautiful New York light that Matisse spoke about. He associated with fellow downtown artists Fairfield Porter, Alex Katz, and Larry Rivers, and shared a loft with Ilya Bolotowsky. In the eighties John Paul worked in the novelty world of outdoor advertising, billboards and wall signs. This job exposed him to a different, sharper and more practical kind of talent and craft and took his eye to crazy heights, gothic viewpoints of skewed angles and verticality. And danger. These "danger" moments sharpened his eye as the observer, and trained him to be on the lookout for beauty. Today, he devotes himself full time to art and writing. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.