This article brings together Toni Morrison, Jane Jacobs, and Howard Hodgkin to consider the stress they each place on “contact,” albeit through their distinctive media of literature, urban planning, and oil paint, respectively. The article begins with Morrison's account of the stranger as not foreign or unusual but “random.” Morrison views literature as a means of bringing readers into controlled contact with others and especially with those others (those strangers) one might fear, avoid, or overlook. Morrison sets the stage for thinking about contact in relation to the concept of randomness. Part 2 turns to Jacobs, who investigates city sidewalks as sites of interpersonal contact that affect the safety, health, solidarity, responsibility, and freedoms of those living in urban environments. Part 3 turns to Hodgkin and his obsession with the frame as an invitation to touch. The figures brought together in this article serve as touchstones for how to create, foster, or enlarge sites for contact. Together they might help us to expand the parameters of what contact might mean, how it might occur, and where it can happen.

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