I painted “Black Friday” immediately after the event that it depicts took place. I worked on the painting for several months over the course of the winter of 2008-9.
The event is the infamous “Black Friday” stampede at Walmart that occurred on the morning of Friday, November 28th. When the store opened at 5AM for a post-Thanksgiving sale, a mob of roughly two thousand shoppers had gathered at the doors of the big-box-mega-store. Several hundred extremely excited shoppers rushed through the doors of the Valley Stream Walmart hoping to take advantage of a sale on Samsung 50-inch televisions. Jdimytai Damour, a thirty-four year old temporary maintenance worker who was working at the Walmart was killed in the stampede and several others were injured.
When I learned of this event the weekend after it happened, I had just completed a painting dealing with the Wall Street collapse that took place in the fall of 2008. I was consumed by a dread of financial ruin, eminent class warfare and general chaos that seemed endemic at that time. I was also interested in the artistic genre of the history painting. I decided that based on the scant information that I had learned of the Walmart event from tabloid newspapers, I would endeavor to make a grand scale painting of the incident. I used 16th Century Italian painter Luca Signorelli’s masterwork “The Gates of Hell” as the basis for my composition and largely imagined what this ghastly event might have looked like.
About Tom Sanford
Tom Sanford is a Harlem-based artist whose work is exhibited extensively in museums and galleries around the world. His paintings, which might be considered a sort of lowbrow conceptual art, range from history paintings depicting celebrity assassinations to portraits of gangsta rappers and teen pop tarts to elaborate cosmologies weaved together from Hollywood movies to contemporary genre paintings, reflect a deep ambivalence about the American cultural condition. Tom was born in Bronxville NY in 1975 and later received a BA from Columbia University then a MFA from Hunter College. Recent solo exhibitions of Sanford’s work include “Café des Artists” at Kravets/Wehby gallery in NYC and “The Lives of the Artists” at Gallery Poulsen in Copenhagen. He is currently preparing for two solo exhibitions that will take place in early 2015, one at Gitler&_ gallery in Harlem and the other at Galleri S.E in Bergen, Norway. If all of that isn’t enough Sanford is also doing his best to raise his two children