About Norman Bush

After serving in the United States Air Force between 1952-1956, I left my hometown of Louisville, KY, to follow my dream of being an actor. In New York, I attended The American Academy of Dramatic Art, graduating in 1959.

I got acting parts in Off Broadway theaters and in 1967, became a founding member of the then new Negro Ensemble Company. I toured the U.S. and Europe with them.

I have worked extensively Off Broadway in movies, television, and commercials. In 2005, I was honored to receive the NAACP and City of Los Angeles Trailblazer Award.

My other passion is photography, particularly of the posters I saw pasted on outdoor walls on the New York streets that I walked every day. I was stunned by the “impromptu art” I saw, all by anonymous artists.

In 1964, I bought my first camera, a Leica 111B. During the next year, I started shooting walls. In the beginning, most of what I shot were advertisements for movies, plays and jazz concerts. But over time, I began to see a change in posters; the late 1960’s and 1970’s gave rise to protest art.

During these 50 years, I have concentrated on small torn paper posters; I call these ripped posters “atmospherically developed.” The torn images that might have started out large have become, what I see as abstract art. They were all paper images adhered to the walls with paste, which breaks down over time and in all sorts of weather. As the paper breaks down, each poster develops into a beautiful abstract form.

I work this way; I walk all over town and photograph whatever I see. Looking back, I see my archive of thousands of photos as a quasi-historical document of 50 years of the history of jazz, politics and theatre in New York.