Artist's Statement


A series of paintings examining the analogous activities of Art & Anthropology

All cities have a distinct aura about them that is unique and different from other urban locales. Each neighborhood within a city, especially in my hometown of New York, has its own unique character & feeling that is explicit and different from other parts of the city. Often extreme and sometimes severe character changes can appear suddenly when moving from one neighborhood to the next. These differences evolve and continue to grow from the various cultural, ethnic, religious and financial backgrounds of the people who lived there, both past and present. Even when the streets are empty, one can sense and identify the character of the place from the architecture, storefronts and businesses that are there. This is what I attempt to portray as the subject of my painting; the essence that emanates from a locale and defines and captures the spirit of the place. This urban landscape series depict venues and "mom-and-pop" type local businesses that seem to be gradually vanishing, succumbing to the onslaught of gentrification and development, leaving behind a sterile and homogenous landscape of trademarks and logos, rendering a banal uniformity to our urban environments. Ironically, it is their very existence that attracts people to these neighborhoods, prompting huge rent increases and development which ultimately drives these merchants out, changing the fabric of the area and destroying the very reason for the neighborhood's popularity in the first place.

Although several of these places depicted in this exhibit are no longer in existence and represent a time and sensibility that may be gone forever, the sentiment in these paintings is not nostalgic. I try to express and commemorate the splendor and uniqueness of these venues as they stand bold and brazen against the ever changing urban landscape during their transient existence. The paintings capture and celebrate the location's distinctive atmosphere, the Genius Loci, or "Spirit of Place" which is a reflection of the culture and sensibilities of the people that inhabit these cities. Each painting stands alone, telling its own special story while the entire series, as a whole, is a study that captures the unique characteristics of the neighborhoods and cities depicted, defining who we are at this particular time and providing a history for us to reflect on as our cities evolve in the 21st Century.

......Raymond Sicignano