Asphalt Art

Asphalt is the sticky, black petroleum based binder for the crushed stone, gravel, sand, or any other aggregate particles that make up road construction or the surface of parking lots. I didn’t know that it was an artist’s tool until yesterday.

When it is worn down by time and seasons, it reveals random channels and streams that were used to lay it down. Drops of steaming asphalt (150 degrees when poured) from a shovel or a tipping pouring spout are smoothed over by industrial rollers but eventually reveal themselves after years of exposure.

Some appear to be fossil shapes, amoebas swimming alone in a vast sea of charcoal gray. At different sections of wear, they intersect and seem to be aware of one another, going in circles, crisscrossing one another’s path. They seem animated by impulse, caprice, play and most surprisingly, beauty. They skirt drain grids, surely a predator in their lives–and appear not to have been able to stop and poured their viscous semi solid self in-between the iron grids, disappearing.

As seasons go by, they are painted as designated parking spaces, patterns of color that reveal their shape and texture. They use whatever pigment or material that blows in the wind as well: what drops randomly from the sky gives them a subtle and sometimes bold design, accessories of both time and art. Sand, leaves, stones, bird droppings, flower petals, seeds are painterly tools if your asphalt is aging and your mood is just right.

If you are drawn by your own nature to look for the invisible, you can find beauty anywhere. This past Sunday I found it underfoot. I just had to look down.

Here is what I saw:  Asphalt Art.

© Pat Coakley 2008

5 comments on “Asphalt Art”

  1. They are really excellent images and they works so well together. I was reminded of the art by Rosalie Gascoigne when I saw them.

  2. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment AND to mention the artist Rosalie Gascoigne. I just went to the Internet to look her up and am very happy to be put in her company. What an amazing world.

  3. ahhh…i like your new template! i can’t wait to see all your images…

  4. They are beautiful! I think I’ll be looking down a lot more often!

  5. Art is in everything we see, it is anything and everything just all depends on the person personally I love watch asphalt dry… all the pretty patterns and colours that shimmer…

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