Enumclaw.434 is a watercolor on gesso painting by Suze Woolf

Painting Details

Watercolor on gesso, varnished, with 4 grommeted hanging tabs, one in each corner
25 x 19
This group of numbers was uncommonly set in a semi-circle. I saw the pole near Enumclaw, Washington, late in the afternoon.

For me, the numbers on utility poles form a paradox of anonymous identity. They must represent location and inventory, but they are utterly faceless and unmemorable. Most people don't even realize they've seen them, and I like getting people to see what they usually ignore.

Like IP addresses and social security numbers they are meaningless in themselves yet they play important roles. Poles in rural areas often display layered generations of numbering systems. All the numbers are likely to disappear in the future as more and more such data are encoded on invisible radio-frequency identification tags. So in addition to a peculiar compunction to bring them to the viewer’s conscious mind, I feel as if I am documenting a fading history.

Here is a video from a recent group show where I explain my obsession with them. Also, here is a wonderful Johnny Firefly poem left for me at a recent exhibit.

You can find the answers to some utility pole questions at The Old Grey Pole Fan Page.

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about any of my images. All represent original paintings, not reproductions. I have many more paintings than are shown on this site. And, since I frequently work in series, there may be additional views of the subjects shown here.