Soon after leaving The Victoria College of Art I took part in a Paint-In sponsored by Victoria's Monday Magazine. The works were done on construction fence surrounding The View Street Towers, a controversial highrise project. I based my work on a photograph I took late one night. I used a combination of spray paint, glued paper and acrylic paint to create the Should I Stay, or Should I Go (below). During the process I met many Victoria artists and decided I wanted to continue painting on fences, but unsanctioned, at night.
Thus began The Dept. of Public Cow Works. For several years I'd had a fascination with bovine imagery and decided to take it to the streets, using the images as a vehicle for social commentary. I enlisted the help of a friend, to keep an eye out and to assist me placing my stencils. Over the next several years I sprayed fences and various surfaces in Victoria and Vancouver. I gained a small amount of notoriety which led to designing a few T-shirts and participation in gallery shows.
Next I planned and staged two street performances: For Further Processing and The Bull Goes On. Videos from the two performances were shown on local TV and later went on tour with a program of West Coast videos. However, I was starting to feel uncomfortable with the contradictions of making anomynous art and now getting media attention. I stopped painting and performing, ending the Dept. of Public Cow Works, and instead turned to gluing photocopies to walls. These were more mysterious and ambiguous.
My final bit of street art were a series of plywood cut-out cows which I placed in various locations around Victoria and a friend photographed. Later I hauled the head off to Pender Island, where some were gifted, some sold and one rustled in the middle of the night.
All in all this phase of my arts career was exciting, led to meeting many other artists and left me with fond memories of the smell of spray paint. I continue to love the form and frequently seek graffiti/street art out wherever I travel.
Is it all over? Hard to say...