The most striking example of this geographic group of artworks is Sunset Intersection – 40th and Vicente (1989). The painting's structure, which empties the centre of the composition, pushes the row houses toward the upper edge of the canvas. This formal decision, along with the deployment of the road's curved incline, the (likely) use of a long-focus lens and the cropping of the right side of the source photograph, visually compresses the built environment. Thus the already closely aligned homes become an exceedingly tight stack of rooftops and chimneys. In the foreground, the angled view of the street's flat portion reveals the homes' balanced replication and variation, each proportionally equal but with modest variations in the shape, colour and façade.
Curiously, this embrace of grid regularity is coupled with one of Bechtle's most fanciful departures from his source photograph: the dramatically darkened sky encroaching from the left. The invented weather, however, is not an attempt to balance the 'monotony' of the row houses with a foreboding sky, but rather an art historical allusion. According to Bechtle the choice was inspired by Ambrogio Lorenzetti's image of a city set against a dark sky in his early Renaissance fresco, Allegories of Good and Bad Government (1338-40). Moreover, the dark sky is intended to conjure some locational specificity: as Bechtle notes, these lighting conditions occasionally appear as part of the city's famed, thick fog banks – a common atmospheric condition in this ocean-side district. (Similar lighting effects appear in Pirkle Jones' photograph of the Sunset from 1951.) Bechtle's painting is a tautly configured study of light and shape, using the built environment to experiment with properties of surface, shadow, colour and brushwork. But the work is also a visual measure of architectural planning; both the perspectival compression and the palette generate subtle indications of spatial experience. Here, seeing yields physical comprehension, offering not only a view of the underremarked residential Sunset, but also a vibrant sense of how these development patterns inform urban experiences.