WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Police across the country are taking part in a new initiative meant to make our roads safer by cracking down on teens and adults who create abstract expressionist paintings while they drive.
The program involves PSA’s, training for officers on how to spot painters in their cars, as well as special checkpoints along major highways where officers will be able to arrest anyone refusing to follow the rules of traditional composition.
Abstract expressionism while driving has been on the rise in recent years, and some say has only gotten worse ever since teen clothier Urban Outfitters began selling “To-go” sized canvasses and mini paint buckets that fit in a car’s cup-holder. A recent survey by ABC News found that over 40% of young adults (ages 16-25) admit to abstract expressionist painting while driving, with 20% saying they create a mind-bending work of pure exploration every single time they get behind the wheel.
Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey was instrumental in creating this new initiative. He says he first became passionate about this issue after a series of accidents in his home city.
“These young people, most of them teenagers, had gotten in to wrecks because they were distracted, applying paint to canvass in non-representational ways and trying to push the limits of what paint can express when they should be keeping their eyes on the road.” Said Ramsey. “I hope this program will help keep more people focused, and remind drivers that they can always explore two-dimensional reality after they get wherever they’re going.”
Empire News spoke to one teenager, Louis, who says that he started abstract expressionist painting while driving almost as soon as he got his license. Says Louis, “It’s not as big a deal as some people make it out to be. If you know what you’re doing, you’ll be fine. Like me, I only paint when I’m stopped at a red light… mostly because red lights are the inspiration for all my work. I try to create a visual mélange which evokes the red light without using the color red.”
According to existing distracted-driver laws, though, Louis is a criminal. Any police officer who catches him paining while driving is within their rights to arrest him. In most jurisdictions, abstract expressionist painting while driving carries a penalty of up to $500, and one scathing review of the painting in question by a magazine or newspaper of record.
Some outside of law enforcement have alleged that the crackdown on abstract expressionist painting while driving is unfairly targeted at young people. Studies have shown that those above the age of 40 tend to avoid abstract expressionism, but that 43% of them landscape or portrait paint while driving, and 37% of them compose classical epic poetry while behind the wheel.