Geraldo Gonzalez: The King of Transit

Geraldo Gonzalez: The King of Transit

First published: Winter 2019
A long-held fascination with buses and trains, and their orderly routines, powers the technicoloured work of Geraldo Gonzalez

Watching Geraldo Gonzalez draw is a study in concentration. A laptop sits open on the table in front of him, churning out sounds from videos that he has made at the bus station in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware: the crank and hum of engines starting and idling, the hissing of doors opening and closing to discharge passengers, the distinctive pneumatic “whoosh” of an air brake system. The videos, which Gonzalez has taught himself to edit, are an integral part of his meticulous, formulaic process of working. Stacks of boxes of Crayola coloured pencils sit to one side, along with a canister in which he discards the shavings from the small, handheld sharpener he frequently uses.
 

SEPTA Broad Street Line at City Hall, 2014, graphite and coloured pencil on paper, 28 x 22 in. / 71 x 56 cm

Having sketched the general outline of a drawing in graphite pencil, Gonzalez then begins the process of bringing the composition to life in coloured pencil. The intensity with which he applies each segment of colour produces bold, deeply saturated hues that pulse with energy. The bus, rendered with precise attention to detail, is positioned at a crossroad made up of multicoloured lines. In the background, the horizon is drawn in vivid, striated bands of colour, the trajectory of lines forming rays of technicolour brilliance shooting out of each segment.

Born in 1988, Gonzalez began drawing buses at the age of 15, the time at which he first experienced using the Wilmington bus system on his own. His knowledge of public transit – the vehicles and their histories, routes (that stretch from Philadelphia to Newark, Delaware, some 42 miles south), and their timetables – is encyclopedic. Known by friends as “The King of Transit” and “Busman”, his expertise is matched only by his dedication and enthusiasm. He has been taking photographs of buses and trains since 2002 when, at 13, he wanted to capture images of an old model of bus before it was taken out of circulation. Along with pictures from the internet, the videos and photos make up the source material for most of his drawings.

When Gonzalez walked into Creative Vision Factory (CVF) in 2011, he found an artistic home. Director Michael Kalmbach had invited him to come along to the new, peer-run art facility which, funded by the state, was aimed at individuals on the mental and behavioural health spectrum. Seeing the depth and composition of Gonzalez’s work, Kalmbach, a painter himself, understood not only what CVF could provide for this artist, who was hungry for exhibition opportunities, but also what an asset he could be to CVF. Self-directed, process-driven and wildly prolific, Gonzalez would provide other members with a model of how artists can work, in terms of practice, but also – given the physical ferocity he brought to the act of drawing – in terms of attitude and passion.
 

This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #104