Artist's 'Express Line' stretches far through space and time
A local man is putting himself on the map by displaying his art project, which he has been creating since the 1980s, at a public gallery for the first time.
Keith Stromp of Troy Hill will showcase his 20-foot depiction of a train track and surrounding scenery on Friday and Saturday at Shaw Galleries, Downtown. T.E.W.E.L. — which stands for “The East West Express Line” — is a fictional map that mixes real places, like Pittsburgh and Chicago, with made-up ones. The drawn and painted scenery includes rivers, streams, oceans and junctions.
“It's railroad tracks gone berserk,”says Stromp, 54, who has an attic full of toy trains.
He began work on the project back in 1982, when he was working as a night security guard and had a lot of down time on his shift. Stromp taped together individual pieces of graph paper, and the length grew to 2,000 feet by the time he took a break from the project a decade later. After restarting the project, T.E.W.E.L. has grown to about 4,500 feet, divided into rolls that are about 250 feet long.
Shaw Galleries will display a 20-foot segment of Stromp's work. Eventually, he hopes to complete T.E.W.E.L. when it reaches 5,500 feet, which is more than a mile long.
“I'm not trying to make a world record or anything like that,” Stromp says. “It's an unusual type of art project — it goes on and on.
“I'm not trying to be rich or famous,” says Stromp, who is “just showing it off for the heck of it and for fun.”
Originally, Stromp drew the map with magic markers, but now uses only paint on the two-dimensional project. He says that creating T.E.W.E.L. has been therapeutic, especially after losing his job four years ago. He loves art.
“I've been like that since high school,” Stromp says. “Thats the only class I excelled in was art.”
Naomi Bean, director of the gallery, calls T.E.W.E.L. “really interesting.”
The gallery, owned by the Trib's art critic Kurt Shaw, sells antique prints and maps, so the project fits.
“I think it's great for the gallery,” Bean says. “He's creating his own map that kind of reflects that creative process that goes into cartography. It's a great opportunity for him, because he's never shown that publicly before.”
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7824.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.