First in San Francisco, and now in New York, PAIROJ PICHETMETAKUL wanders the streets every week pushing a folding cart that holds his brushes, paint, and a long roll of canvas. “What is your name?” he asks when he encounters a homeless person. “Why are you homeless? Where is your family? What are your dreams?” And, the final line, “Can I paint you?”
Some say no. Some shout and curse at him. Many say yes.
PAIROJ paints his subjects on 10-foot-wide by 150-foot-long rolls of canvas, sliced into shorter, more convenient lengths that are later attached back together. He’s already filled four scrolls with side-by-side portraits of some 250 homeless men and women and plans to start work on a 300-foot scroll soon.
“I want people to learn from me when I paint,” PAIROJ says. “I want to inspire them and let them know the homeless need help. I just remind them that we’re all one. We all need hope.”
“Some homeless people just want someone to talk to. People are scared of them. But when I paint, people come and talk to them,” the artist says.
People also give money. PAIROJ never keeps the money because he doesn’t want to “profit from their lives.” He gives it to his subjects along with a container of food that he gets from a Thai restaurant in Queens where he works as a waiter.
May 4, 2016