In this work Ruscha has reversed the stencil so that the text appears backwards and it is even more difficult to decipher due to the letters being stretched vertically. Indeed, the only way to read it is to stand directly below the centre point of the work and look up. This way of engaging with the work relates to a commission Ruscha received to create a seventy-panel mural in the Central Denver Public Library, where “the idea [is] that these panels would be way up in the air and that you could walk underneath them. Then, you can position yourself to actually read those things.” Throughout his oeuvre, Ruscha explores language and American West Coast culture centered on Hollywood. Here, ‘Soapy Smith’ refers to one of the most legendary figures in the American Wild West.