Tilden Tarsnakes

accidental calligraphy

I am not a calligrapher myself although I am an aficionado of the art. I enjoy puzzling over stylized and cursive forms of Chinese characters as I attempt to read the phrases and poems I find on old scrolls. 

One day as I was walking in Tilden Park, my head full of indecipherable ink, I noticed that some of the cracked road repairs (called tarsnakes by bikers) bore a striking resemblance to the calligraphy I had been studying. I photographed some, then added digital mountings which, printed on fabric, I then mounted as hanging scrolls.

The first set, Tilden Tarsnakes I, consist of four large (24” by 75”) scrolls.

The second set, Tarsnake Ensō, are images of four repaired manhole covers, in which the encircling tar looks like the famous Zen circles called ensō.

The third set, Homage to Ink Artists, consists of images that reminded me of the art of six 20th-century calligraphers and modern artists.

Tilden Tarsnakes I

tarsnake I

tarsnake II

tarsnake III

tarsnake IV

Tarsnake Ensō




sanitary sewer

Homage to Ink Artists

Morita Shiryu

Franz Klein

Shinoda Toko

Joan Miro

Robert Motherwell

Inoue Yuichi