I wanted to build a piece that resembled a core sample of a city street. As though you took a street, dug it up, and lifted it straight off the earth. "Canal St. Cross-Section" is a combination of five major pieces built into one box. There's a street scene on the top with a subway entrance on the corner. Looking down into the subway entrance, you are led to the two subterranean levels of the piece, both of which have intersecting cross views visible through the small windows on the sides of the piece.
The street scene is not an exact representation of Canal Street, but rather a combination of existing and fabricated environments. The Canal Rubber store is modeled after the real thing — a landmark on Canal Street since 1954. The pizza place on the corner was inspired by one that existed on Eighth Ave. — I liked the signage. I decided to throw in the Chinese massage parlor both to give it a touch of Chinatown and also to spice it up a little. The other business establishments on the street were modeled to give the feeling of how Canal Street looked in the late 1970s.
I've done so many subway environments over the years, showing almost every conceivable point of view. I wanted to incorporate several of these different views into this project. The problem was to make all that architecture work together and make sense visually. I was able to do that by having windows on the sides of the piece to accommodate the cross views. I gave the subway platform a sense of depth by using a carefully placed mirror at the far end. As with almost all of my projects, the sight lines were critical.
"Canal St. Cross-Section" took eighteen months from start to finish.