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It was early spring; buds were starting to show on the trees, sprouts were coming up out of the nearly-orange tilled rows. I was driving one of my preferred North Carolina backroad routes: the “long way” we used to take to my grandma’s house, the one who lived in the country. She had been gone for a couple of years by then, but I still enjoyed pretending I had somewhere to go. I had my windows down for as long as I could tolerate the cold, singing along poorly to Sammy Kershaw’s “Vidalia'', blaring at a level that was probably unhealthy. A deep blue-purple sign stapled high up a peeling brown powerline pole caught my eye:




Suboxone, I knew, was an opioid antagonist used in aiding the fight against drugs like Oxycontin and heroin. I was aware of the opioid epidemic in America, of course, but how many people in the area, I wondered, were struggling with addiction and needed treatment the same day? I knew this area intimately and I’d never seen the sign before; what had changed for someone to put it up, now? 


I had my doubts that the sign was offering a legitimate service to those most vulnerable in our population. It was probably someone’s chance to make a quick, predatory buck, by taking advantage of those who are suffering and desperate for instant relief. I knew I would never know the truth.


The sign stayed in my head for weeks, much like an ear worm that wouldn’t leave. Eventually, I decided to get the idea out through my art. I’ve always started my work first digitally, and I found that the generic, bold font of the sign had a unique ability to be stretched and scaled. It showed no personal touches from the originator, no insight into their intentions or motivations. 

I had it in digital form for months before I finally decided that it was worth committing it to a painting. The colors that I mix here are a reflection of what you would see on a sign in Anywhere USA. They are bright and engaging. Hard-edge and high contrast. Offering immediate relief, much like the sign purports to do itself; enlarged to a scale that is impossible to ignore.

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