At the end of an August midnight shift many years ago I stopped on a bridge to enjoy the sunrise. Upon stopping, I noticed some faded graffiti. Carefully spray painted on the guardrail of this secluded bridge were the words “We Were Here”, followed by the date (which indicated the words had been painted on that exact day in August some 15 years earlier). Also painted on the bridge railing was the tag, “The Brew Crew”.
I got out of my patrol car and stretched my legs. It was the end of my shift, so I stood there for quite some time. I thought about the events that took place on that night 15 years before and wondered what ever became of “The Brew Crew”. I wondered if they realized the symbolic significance of the fact that they painted their words on a bridge, which is a transitional structure intended to get you across an obstacle from one place to another. I also wondered if they noticed the old and experienced storm-damaged tree watching from the other side of the bridge.
I concluded that it had been painted by someone out with a group of friends for one last wild night in late summer, after High School graduation and before the constraints of adult responsibilities brought their carefree lifestyle to an end.
I intentionally composed the painting so that the date painted by “The Brew Crew” is not completely revealed so viewers of any age could identify with “The Brew Crew”. The declaration “We Were Here” resonated within my mind. “Here” is a place, a time, a state of mind. We Were Here… the simple phrase makes a statement about the universal human desire to leave some sort of mark, to remember and be remembered.
I was going to title this painting “We Were Here”, but as I painted it I changed my mind. The painting became less about the past, and more about the need to appreciate every stage of your life as time goes by.
There is no doubt about it, though. The summer after High School graduation? Prime Time.
Image and text © 2015 James Golaszewski