Owen Smith Does BART (Another one rides the bus)
“I like the idea of reading a book and losing yourself on your train ride.”
— Owen Smith
Four years after artist Owen Smith was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission to do a series of paintings to create a series of posters, Dashiell Hammett’s San Francisco, for their annual “Art on Market Street” kiosk poster series, he was at it again. This time, the City-by-the-Bay commissioned him to do three over-sized posters as part of BART’s “Literary Journeys” series, which placed art in unused or under-utilized wall space along the train platforms. The idea was to show BART riders reading books by Bay Area authors, as events from the novels play out in their imaginations.
Of course, the most relevant for this site is the his tribute to Dashiell Hammett (above), featuring Sam Spade taking the bus past John’s Grill, the Black Bird in hand, while giving Miss O’Shaughnessy the eye, while another passenger reads… The Maltese Falcon.
But the other authors in Smith’s paintings have Bay Area connections, as well, with Smith also paying tribute to Jack London’s The Call of the Wild and Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club.
Smith, who grew up in the area and fondly remembers taking BART from his childhood home in Fremont to explore “the big city of San Francisco.,” is nationally known for his New Yorker cover illustrations in pulp-fiction style illustrations and paintings for everything from paperbacks and CDs, to interior illustrations and covers for The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Mother Jonesand Sports Illustrated.
- Owen Smith: Art & Illustration
Any doubt about Owen’s pulp bonafides? His site opens with a quote from Chandler.
- They Also Served: Owen Smith