Monday, November 26, 2012

Marathon, a self portrait



Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 12 x 12''
2012, painting #212

The Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento, CA invited me last summer to take part in an invitational group show entitled ''Face Yourself'' that will feature artist self portraits. The invite stated, ''This can be conceived from your own point of view, how you think people view you, etc...You can get as creative as you want, there are no rules. I think the possibilities are endless and the outcome of the show is going to be fabulously unexpected and fun''.

I really went outside the box for this one, and literally inside a jar. Although I have been painting for 25 years, my artistic professional career only began 10 years ago. Prior to 2002, I completed an average of only two paintings per year. For a full decade, my main focus during my spare time was pursuing my dream of being a marathon runner.

I started running in 1976 at age 14 while in junior High School. The Summer Olympics held in Montreal that same year would leave an indelible mark on me. When Canadian Olympian Jerome Drayton won the Boston Marathon the following spring in 1977, his victory would ignite the flame within me to become a long distance runner and to one day follow in his footsteps.



The journey getting there was long and arduous. After competing in athletics and cross country races in junior and high school, I made the transition to road races.  During my twenties, I had my share of running related injuries and was diagnosed at age 26 with heel strike hemolysis. A long standing condition I had developed  where there is a breakdown of red blood cells in the capillary vessels of the feet upon the impact resulting in anaemia. This was corrected with iron supplement and kept in-check afterwards while continuing the therapy. 

In September 1992,  at age 30, the stars finally aligned for me and I would run my first full marathon. I had waited so long for this day, and thought it might be my one and only, so I decided to go big and run the Toronto Marathon, the city where my hero Jerome Drayton lived. I was so overwhelmed by it all and remember being teary eyed several times during the race. Half way in, I was still on pace to qualify for the Boston Marathon. With about 5 miles to go, I would hit the wall. I would however get a second wind on the final mile and had enough left in the tank to sprint the last 200m as we were greeted inside Varsity Stadium where a massive jumbo screen was set up and spectators in the bleachers cheers us in. I finished in a time of 3h22:10. It was a defining moment in my life and from that point on, I was hooked.  

My next goal was to achieve the qualifying standard for the Boston Marathon which was 3h10:59 for a male runner under 35. This would finally happen seven marathons and three years later on May 14, 1995 at the Johnny Miles Marathon in New Glascow, Nova Scotia. On this very difficult course, I would achieve a personal best of 3h11:30.  I would find out later that year that my clocking would stand and I received my ticket to the start line of the historical 100th running of the Boston Marathon that was held on April 15, 1996. Running my first Boston Marathon easily qualifies as the greatest moment of my whole athletic journey. The history behind this event is rich and is considered by many as the people's Olympics. It has always been held on the third Monday of April on Patriots Day. The inaugural running of the Boston Marathon took place in 1897. It was inspired by the marathon of the first Olympiads of modern era held in Athens, Greece the previous year.

In total, I completed 22 marathons and every one hold a special place in my heart. From the get-go, I decided to combine the races with travelling, and visiting art galleries and museums whenever possible. For the exception of three Boston Marathons (1996, 1999 and 2000) and two New York City Marathons (1994, 2002), all the others were in different towns and cities, twelve in the United States, nine in Canada plus the Bermuda Marathon. 

In the composition for this painting, the photograph of myself was taken during the last mile of the 1999 Boston Marathon.






The seven bid numbers used in the composition are among the marathons which hold the most importance on various levels.  From the top left -clockwise: 

1- New York City Marathon - 2002 



Bill Rodgers is a 4-time New York City and
4-time Boston Marathon Champion
One of the greatest ambassador the sport has ever known.


2- Maine Marathon - 1998 
3- The 100th running of the Boston Marathon - 1996
4- The Toronto Marathon - 1992
5- The Fredericton Marathon - 2001 
6- The Johnny Miles Marathon - New Glascow, NS.- 1995
7- The Chicago Marathon - 1993


By using a Mason jar, I am essentially preserving the memory of a self from a not so distance past, during a period where I physically felt the most alive and invincible.

UPDATE- January 5, 2013
This painting is currently on exhibit in ''Face Yourself'', an Invitational group show being held from January 3-31, 2013 at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento, California.

Participating artists includes the talents of Lisa Alonzo, Teresa N. Fischer, Jeff Nebeker, Rogelio Manzo, Elizabeth Barlow, Jennifer Balkan, Ryoko Tajiri, Kenney Mencher, Micah Crandall-Bean, Byran Mark Taylor, John Tarahteeff, Jelaine Faunce, Randy Brennan, Gale Hart, Terry Pappas, Maren Conrad, Gary Pruner, Patricia Wall and John Karl Claes. Viewing at this LINK.


Collection of the artist. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

THE STILL LIFE INVITATIONAL / AMERICAN ART COLLECTOR - OCT. 2012

 I am very privileged to have been asked to take part in The Still Life, an Invitational Group Show opening at the Elliott Fouts Gallery tomorrow, October 6. This is also my third participation in as many editions. As in previous years, I have an image of one of my paintings currently featured on page 150 of a promotional article in the Oct. 2012 issue of American Art Collector Magazine. I have the pleasure to hang my work alongside 10 amazing artists:  Elizabeth Barlow, Leigh-Anne Eagerton, Teresa N. Fischer, Thane Gorek, Michael E. Hockenbury, Sangita Phadke, Christopher Stott, Joanne Tepper, Kari Tirrell and Kathrine Lemke WasteOpening reception will be held on October 13 and the show runs until November 1.



My two submitted pieces are-
Tangerines in a Hurricane Vase, an homage to Edgar Degas
15 x 11, acrylic on hardboard 2009/2012
___________

Famous for more than Fifteen Minutes
16 x 11' acrylic in hardboard, 2012
l


1831 P. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95811 


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Car Jam

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 16 x 12''
painting # 211, 2012

This painting has been on the back burner for more than three years. I had purchased these Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars at the time and already had a concept in mind, but there was one illusive item to complete the composition and play with words that I have yet to find to satisfy me visually. In the past year, I came across this magnificent mason jar and book which in turn created a different narrative from my original concept.

The featured book, THE CAR, A HISTORY OF THE AUTOMOBILE was written by British-born Jonathan Glancey, whom until this past February was architecture and design editor for The Guardian. He previously held the same position at The Independent and is currently a freelance editor. He has recently written several reviews for The Telegraph, including one about the recent opening to The ArcelorMitta Orbit at London's Olympic Park by artist Anish Kapoor and structural designer Cecil Balmond. He has also written several books surveying the history of architecture, planes, trains and automobiles. This edition was published in 2010 by SevenOaks. The cover features a 1945 ZIS 110 Limousine, while the bottom is a Ferrari Enzo. I slightly played with the depth of field and keep the back imagery just slightly out of focus thus eliminating the very fine details so that the main details would focus on the jar and it's content. 

The jar includes the following models from Matchbox- a 1957 GMC Pick-up truck, a 2008 Chevy Corvette ZR1, and a 2005 Dodge Magnum. To complete the quintet, two Hot Wheels muscle cars: a 1970 Chevelle SS and a 1971 Dodge Charger. 

This painting is very much as the bold letter on the mason jar suggests, about the preservation and restoration of automobiles. There is great interest in vintage and classic cars. Here in Moncton, the city hosts the Atlantic Nationals,  a car show held over 3 days in July where the public comes out in droves. It's an eye-candy love fest for car lovers of all ages. I recently spoke to the wife of the chap to whom I had sold my first car, a 1971 Chevy Mailbu. I sold it for $200, the same price I paid for it back in 1981. My father had helped me acquire the vehicle for a summer job when I was 19 years old and only kept if for 6 month. It was on it's last miles when I sold it.....until he completely restored and transformed it into a veritable muscle car. She told me that it had been parked in their backyard in recent years, but it was still his baby and that he fully intended to refurbish it before long.

This painting was exhibited in: 

ASPECTS OF REALISM
Saint John Arts Centre
City of Saint John Gallery
20 Hazen Avenue
Saint John, NB CANADA
(506) 633-4870

September 7 - October 27, 2012

-SOLD

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Closer Look at the Titanic



Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 9 x 12''
Painting #210, 2012


I had never considered doing a painting of the Titanic until this past late March. On the same day, I received a copy of National Geographic and Canada Post's Details catalogue in our mailbox, both had the Titanic on their covers. Canada Post was issuing a stamp not necessarily to commemorate the centennial of the it's sinking, but to remember the humane aspect surrounding the tragedy. Of lives saved and lost and to ''How the people of Halifax, NS rose to meet the grim duty placed on them.'' On the recovery of more than 150 of the victims, many of the unnamed, were laid to rest in three of the city's cemeteries as Halifax became the focus of the world's press.This tragic sinking of the Titanic after colliding with an iceberg on April 15, 1912, has become an event in time that has touched so many lives and continues to intrigue and fascinate millions with the passing of time. Click HERE to view related story.





While browsing on eBay, I quickly realized that material was limited. So, I took the approach of exploring the postal service as the ship's full name was RMS Titanic which stood for Royal Mail Steam Ship Titanic. The liner had a extensive compartment for carrying mail overseas. During the crossing, 1700 bags of letters plus parcels had to be sorted out by five clerks which comprised of three American and two British citizens. A total of 6 million mail items were lost at sea, none were ever recovered. Click HERE for a view inside of the Mail Room.


On eBay, I found a green replica of the Titanic's launch ticket that took place at Belfast, Ireland on May 31, 1911. It is reported that 100,000 people attended the launch at sea. For the next year, the ship was docked and a massive crew completed the interior.  I also wanted something authentic from the period, and found it in the form of an original 1912 post card that had an Art Nouveau flair with lotus flowers. The interior décor of the luxury liner was very much influenced by this style which was in vogue during this period. The postcard had a two cents stamp of George Washington, two post marks, San Francisco and Brussels, and a cancellation ink stamp of the ''World's Pan-Pacific Exhibition 1915''.


For the painting I would manipulate some details to link it in the narrative. Initially I had conjured up the idea that a passenger would have sent a post card to America a month prior to announce that they were boarding the steam ship on it's maiden voyage and were excited at the prospect of seeing each other upon their arrival in New York City.



National Geographic Society, Washington, DC


Smithsonian National Postal Museum, Washington, DC

In the meanwhile, our long weekend getaway spent in Washington, D.C. during Easter provided me with much more insight. The National Geographic Society was hosting the exhibit, Titanic: 100 Year Obsession, while the Smithsonian National Postal Museum had just opened a new exhibit entitled ''Fire & Ice: Hindenburg and Titanic'',where I picked up the idyllic post card of the ship combining vintage photography and modern graphics.




Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Washington, DC.




I did the photo study in June and started the preparatory drawing in late July. Upon drawing the Launch ticket, I noticed that the lettering had been meticulously done by hand. So, I did an Internet search to see if another variation of the ticket existed and it is at this time when all of the elements came together to create the full narrative. On the 100th Anniversary date of the sinking, April 15, Bonhams Auction House in New York held an auction of Titanic artifacts which included a similar ticket in white, numbered 193, that still had it's perforated admission stub. It fetched a whopping $56,250 USD. A postcard sent on April 6, 1912 by Titanic wireless telegrapher Jack Phillips to his sister Elsie went to a lucky bidder for $20,000 USD. It was inscribed as follows:

 ''Thank you very much for your letter. 
Having glorious weather, went to Cowes yesterday. 
Will write later before we sail.
 Love All Jack''




Using this information and another image of a postcard that was sent to his sister Ethel the previous year, I followed up with an imaginary last postcard for the painting that would have been sent to Elsie as promised by Jack, postmarked on April 11 in Southampton, the day after the departure, which would also have been Jack's 25th birthday.

Jack Phillips was a pivotal figure prior to Titanic hitting the iceberg and the aftermath of rescuing the passengers. He was the senior wireless operator of the Marconi equipment aboard the Titanic. Joined by Harold Bride, they both worked separately alternating 6-hour shifts.  Among their tasks of communicating with other ships sailing the Atlantic, they were also assigned to 
send telegrams from passengers to the mainland. On the evening of 14 April, in the wireless room on the boat deck, it is suggested that as Titanic had come within range of Cape Race coast station situated in Newfoundland. Jack Phillips was attempting to clear a huge backlog of telegrams for the United States that had accumulated when the wireless had broken down the day before. Vital warning from ships Mesaba and SS California of icebergs ahead were overlooked by the overworked Phillips as the messages received from both had been sent without the MSG prefix, indicating a personal message for Titanic's Captain - which was required by regulations then in force to be personally acknowledge. This is a deleted scene from James Cameron's Titanic for which Phillips would have said to Cyril Evans of the SS Californian ''Keep out, shut up, you're jamming my signal. I'm working Cape Race''

After hitting the iceberg, Phillips and Bride vigilantly worked at their stations sending distress signals of their location up until water started pouring in the Marconi room and power was lost. The message "CQD" means a general call to all vessels, which indicates the vessel sending is in distress and requires immediate assistance. At the time of the "Titanic" sinking, the Marconi company's "CQD" was still in common use, although it had been officially replaced by the well known "SOS". One hour forty minutes after the sinking, RMS Carpathia arrived on the scene in response to Titanic's earlier distress calls. 710 people survived the disaster and were conveyed by Carpathia to New York, while 1,514 people lost their lives. Phillips and Bride were washed off the ship as the boat deck flooded, but managed to scramble onto the upturned lifeboat Collapsible 'B'.  Bride was rescued by the Carpathia the following morning. Despite being injured, he helped the Carpathia's wireless operator transmit survivor lists and personal messages from the ship. Sadly, Jack Phillips died of hypothermia on or near the same lifeboat, his body was never recovered.

Much can be said about the Titanic and it's place in history and in popular culture. Much of the resurgence can be attributed to James CameronThe film maker has led three expeditions to the bottom of the Atlantic to the site of the sunken vessel. He developed and piloted a new class of nimble, fibre-spooling robots that brought back never before seen images of the ship's interior and was able to shoot actual footage of the ship underwater, which he inserted into the final film.The movie went on the become a phenomenal box office blockbuster and received much deserved critical praise.


The Canadian stamp in the painting was designed by illustrators Mark Little. I did choose to alter the top section of the chimneys since all source photography I found informed me otherwise. The reference to Cape Race on the stamp was also the instigating factor that lead me to explore the Jack Phillips trail. 

I have affixed both stamps used in the painting along with a postcard of the Titanic on the back panel of the frame. The other Stamp is an English half-penny that features King George V with a killer moustache.   

Noteworthy- On July 12, 1986, American Robert Ballard leads an expedition aboard Atlantis II and dives to the wreck of the Titanic in the submersible Alvin (no, we are not related!).

Update- On Thanksgiving weekend, we visited Halifax and took the opportunity to stroll in the Fairview Cemetery where many of the Titanic's victims where laid to rest. Since the release of the James Cameron's film, it has become somewhat a tourist attraction. One tomb in particular does attract of fair amount of attention, that of J. Dawson. It was revealed that the grave site is attributed Joseph Dawson, an Irishman who worked in Titanic's boiler room as a coal trimmer and not the film's fictional lead character Jack Dawson.


Fairview Cemetery, Halifax, NS
My wife Suzanne with J.Dawson tombstone 

This painting was exhibited in: 

ASPECTS OF REALISM
Saint John Arts Centre
City of Saint John Gallery
20 Hazen Avenue
Saint John, NB CANADA
(506) 633-4870

September 7 - October 27, 2012


Please contact Handworks Gallery if you wish to acquire the painting.

12 King Street,
Saint John, NB, CANADA E2L 1G2
(506) 652-9787
e-mail - info@handworks.ca 

-SOLD

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

ASPECT OF REALISM


I am very fortunate to be included in a group show entitled ASPECT OF REALISM that is opening at The Saint John Art Centre on September 7, 2011. Five of my recent paintings will be included in the lot. Also taking part are realist artists Peter Cunningham, Manami Fukuda, Cathy Ross, Peter Gough, Peter Salmon, Herzl Kashetsky, Brian Lasaga, Cliff Turner, Bruce Pashak, John Pottle, Lynn Wiggington and myself. All artists are represented by either the Trinity Galleries, the Peter Buckland Gallery or Handworks Gallery. 



Opening reception is on Friday evening from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. The show runs through October 27, 2012. 


Artwork featured in HERE Weekly publication p. 28, Sept 13-19, 2012

Saint John Arts Centre
20 Hazen Avenue
Saint John, New Brunswick
Canada
E2L 5A5
Phone: 506-633-4870
Fax: 506-674-104o


OPEN TUESDAY THROUGH SATURDAY 9:00 to 5:00 pm - Admission is FREE

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Famous for More than Fifteen Minutes

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 16 x 11''
painting #209, 2012

Today, marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's untimely passing at the age of 36. The circumstances surrounding her death has been the subject of much speculation and mystery. There are a few actresses of the golden age of cinema that still continue to mesmerise me and these include- Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman and Grace Kelly. For Marilyn, her vulnerability and timeless beauty captured both on film and in photography makes her immortal and her ever growing appeal continues to fascinate half a century later. 


Ed Feingersh photography

 The genesis for this painting was ignited after viewing two films this past February. My week with Marilyn for which Michelle Williams received a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination and the 2009 film Coco before Chanel starring Audrey Tautou.  A most famous photograph of Marilyn taken by Ed Feingersh was the catalyst that sparked the whole concept. In the 1950s the glamour of Chanel No. 5 was reignited by Monroe, whose unsolicited endorsement of the fragrance provided invaluable publicity.“What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course,” the Daily Mail quoted Monroe as saying in the ad. In another 1994 ad, model Carole Bouquet was morphed into Marilyn for a clever Chanel No. 5 video commercial. (click HERE to view)




Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel was born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel in Saumur, France in 1883. She first branched out into fashion as a hat designer. She revolutionized the fashion industry with menswear-inspired design done in simple elegance which made her a rebel in the 1920's and 30's. She rejected a lot of the feminine fashion of her day and created a more androgynous look. Her House of Haute-Couture became famous for her tweed suits, little black dress, costume jewelery, top-stitched bags, chain belts and of course the world's most famous perfume, Chanel No.5 The scent was developed by Russian-French chemist and perfumer Ernest Beaux. In 1921, the perfume's first 100 bottles were given as Christmas gifts to her best clientèle. The following year, it was made available to the general public, marking 90 years in 2012.  A bottle of Chanel No.5 is sold every 30 seconds.


After doing a bit of research I realized that I was also able to pay homage to my favourite Pop artist Andy Warhol, who's anniversary of his death also coincides with the milestone year of 25. And tomorrow, he would have turned 84.


The Chanel No. 5 bottle, over decades, has itself become an identifiable cultural artifact, so much so that Andy Warhol chose to commemorate its iconic status in the mid-1980s with his pop-art silk-screens.  Even empty, the bottle are highly collectible. It took me more than two weeks to acquire one on eBay that was not going to cost upwards of $20. For it's 75th anniversary, Chanel issued a special edition of No.5 using one of Warhol's serigraphic images on the box that holds the decanter. Of course the title was inspired by the Warhol quotation, ''In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes''



The image of Monroe used in the painting appears on the cover the slip case of a massive two-volume book set entitled ''Modern Art'', published by Taschen in 2011. (Marilyn, 1964, silkscreen on canvas 40'' x 40'' by Andy Warhol). I came across these books at the Museum Shop of the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC during a visit this past Easter. Since I was travelling light with only a backpack, at a hefty 11 lbs, I opted to buy it on-line through Amazon.com upon my return. For this composition I used a crystal ball much like a clairvoyant would do to channel their spirits. The lives of all three did become intertwined because of their fame. All three are iconic figures of Popular Culture for the significant contribution to the arts.

On a personal note- Monroe died in 1962, seven months after I was born. Warhol died on February 22 1987, the same month I completed my first original painting. In 2006, we vacationed three days in Oiron, France to visit a family friend living there. We spent a full afternoon in Saumur where Coco Chanel was born, visiting châteaux along the Loire River in this very scenic town with black slate roofs.

This painting will be exhibited in ''The Still Life'' Invitational group show during the month of October at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento, California. Details to follow.

Elliott Fouts Gallery
1831 P. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95811 

-SOLD

Friday, July 6, 2012

One fish, two fish....gold fish

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 2012
8 x 10'', painting # 208

It has been a while since I've completed a painting. I've been busy taking care of other aspects of my life while trying to keep everything in balance. With this said, I hope to devote more time to my artwork in the coming months.


This painting is of sort, a companion piece to ''A Cat and Fish Tale'' created more than two years ago. It is also a piece about celebrating life. In this case, the life of Maurice the fish. Maurice, our pet gold fish was purchased in April of 2010, specifically as a painting prop. Much to my surprise and delight, Maurice is still alive and well and has probably grown about an inch since his first modelling assignment.I did the photo study for the painting in early March on his two year anniversary with us, which would account for the snow outside the window.





''A Cat and Fish Tale''
Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 8 x 10'', #180, 2010

After spotting Dr. Suess' ''One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish'' 50th anniversary edition book with the gold cover in a few stores around town, the concept came to me. However, I decided to use a regular edition book with the yellow cover to anchor the composition. It was purchased as a set along with ''Green Eggs and Ham'' on eBay. These books are Dr. Suess' three best selling titles. In 2000, they were ranked in the top 15 best selling children books of all-time. 

With the most recent box office success of the computer-animated film ''The Lorax'', the spirit of Dr. Suess  (Theodor Suess Geisel) remains alive and well. Life often has a funny way of letting you know what is important if you are awake enough to see the signs. This past Easter while walking in front of the White House in Washington D.C. during the Easter Egg Roll, this young mother and child were leaving the grounds and she was sporting a very familiar tote bag, which reminded me the importance of pursuing the imagery.
   

   Easter in Washington, DC.


Update- February 24, 2014 
Today, Maurice the fish journeyed to the largest of all fish bowl, one without glass. We will miss you little buddy, it was a great 4 years.

-SOLD

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Richard Family goes to Washington

click on photo for details

This past Easter weekend we flew to Washington DC for a 5-day getaway. It was our first visit here and one that I had anticipated for such a long time. I still remember our 6th grade teacher telling us that we should all try to visit the Smithsonian some day......Mrs Babineau would be pleased. We had visited London England twice before, and the two Capitols share many common traits; a Mall, grand monuments, amazing architecture and some of the most famous museums, most of which are free.

The year 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the 100th anniversary of the Gift of Cherry Trees to Washington DC from the Embassy of Japan. There are 1700 cherry trees around the Tidal Bassin and another 2000 spread around the city. We were there during the Easter Egg Roll on the White House Lawn hosted by the Obamas and the Cherry Blossom Festival. Many cherry blossoms were out in full bloom, especially in front of the Japanese Embassy and Arlington Cemetery. With the unusual warm weather and Spring coming so early this year, the variety around the Tidal Bassin had already reached it's foliage stage. 

We had the opportunity to view some amazing art at the Phillips Collection, the National Gallery of Art, the Renwick Gallery and the Hirshorn Museum / Sculpture Garden and my personal favorite the National Portrait Gallery /the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The paintings I was most anticipating were the Luncheon of the Boating Party by Auguste Renoir, the Vermeer's at the National Gallery of Art and the many Edward Hopper and John Singer Sargent's spread in the many museums listed above. 

We also visited most of the monuments and war memorials. We went on a guided tour of the Capitol Building, and breezed through the National Geographic Society, the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of Natural History, the Library of Congress, the US Botanical Garden, the National Postal Museum, the National Building Museum, the National Archives and last but not least the National Air and Space Museum. This last museum is listed after the Louvres in Paris as the world's 2nd most visited yearly. It really has the WOW factor. I was able to see the ''Spirit of St. Louis'' which was the inspiration of a painting earlier this year -view link for update. 

We really tried to cram up as much as we could during our stay, but we only scratched the surface. With that said, we hope to return sometime in the next decade as there are more than a dozen museums we did not have time to visit.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Planes, Trains & Automobiles


The three paintings that I have most recently completed will all be shown in the ''PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES'' Invitational exhibition that opens today at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacamento, CA. Nostalgia is one thread that links all the imagery together. I have the honor to hang my work along side a very select group of artist that includes the likes of Alan Gorman, Brian O'Neill, Bryan David Snuffer, Bryan Mark Taylor, Dianne Gall, James Crandall, Janet Ternoff, Jelaine Faunce, Joe Santos, Kari Tirrell, Mark Oberndorf, Robert LaDuke, and Vic Vicini. To preview the show, click on this EFG link.



Click on image for a closer view

I was advised by the gallery that ''Lucky Lindy flies the Air Mail'' and ''Caboose on Pennsylvania Railroad '' both sold yesterday. Many thanks to the patron who acquired them and to the gallery for hosting and their promotional work. The opening reception will be held next Saturday, March 10, 6-9 pm. If distance was not part of the equation, I would surely attend.



Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Caboose on Pennsylvania Railroad

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 8 x 10''
Painting # 207, 2012

The only toy that I've kept from my own childhood is an electric toy train set, comprised of a steam engine, three wagons and a caboose. This Mantua train set was given to me by my next door neighbor when I was about 12 years old. It belonged to her youngest son who was more than 10 years my senior. At the time, he had moved out of the homestead and his mother came upon it while cleaning out the remains left behind. I would estimate that it is close to 50 years old. 

When I started to read about the Pennsylvania Railroad Company on Wikipedia, the genesis for the composition came me.  The Pennsylvania Railroad (PPR) was founded in 1846. It's headquarters was located in Philadelphia, PaThe PRR was the largest railroad by traffic and revenue in the U.S. for the first half of the twentieth century and was at one time the largest publicly traded corporation in the world. At its peak it controlled about 10,000 miles (16,000 km) of rail line. At one point the budget for the PRR was larger than that of the U.S. government and at its peak it employed about 250,000 workers. In 1968, it would merge with it's rival, the New York Central Lines to form the Penn Central Transportation Company.The Interstate Commerce Commission required that the ailing New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad be added in 1969. A series of events including inflation, poor management, abnormally harsh weather conditions and the withdrawal of a government-guaranteed 200-million-dollar operating loan forced the Penn Central to file for bankruptcy protection on June 21, 1970. The Penn Central rail lines were split between Amtrak and Conrail in the 1970s. After the breakup of Conrail in 1999, the portion which had been PRR territory largely became part of the Norfolk Southern Railway.



This painting chronicles in a whimsical way, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company during it's 122 years of operation from 1846 to 1968. I've been collecting stamps since my early teens. I've always viewed them as miniature artworks, so as the previous painting, I'm incorporating a very appropriate stamp in the composition. This first-day cover does not exist in real life. I took bits and pieces from of other medias to fabricate an imaginary first-day cover marking the last day (January 31, 1968) the company operated before merging with it’s rival, the New York  Central  Lines.This US stamp was actually issued at 32¢ on May 28, 1998, to celebrate the ''Electric Toy Train''. From a timeline of the US Postal Services, the cost for mailing a first-class letter in 1968 was 6¢, so I changed the amount accordingly for the painting.  

1998 US- 32¢ stamp celebrating the 
''Electric Toy Train'' used in the painting

I chose Atlantic City, NJ for the postmark, since the PPR once served the city and it is the setting for the Monopoly game on which the composition in anchored on.  The lone caboose serves as a sign of the times. Until the 1980’s, laws in the US and Canada required that all freight trains had a caboose and a full crew for safety. Technology eventually advanced such and in effort to save money and reduce crew members, it was stated that the caboose was unnecessary and their use has since declined and they are seldom seen on trains, except on locals and small railroads.


The Pennsylvania Railroad Museum which is located east of Philadelphia, outside of Strasbourg Pa in Amish country. In relation with my previous painting, Lucky Lindy flies the Airmail, that museum is currently restoring ''The Lindbergh engine'', PRR #460. During his first stop in Washington, DC on June 11, 1927, after returning from Europe and his transatlantic flight, Charles Lindbergh was promoted to colonel and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by President Calvin Coolidge. Two rival newsreel companies, who were each vying to be the first to have their films of the ceremony shown in New York theaters before Lindbergh's visit to the Big Apple two days later, chartered a train and an aircraft, respectively, from Washington to New York City. No. 460 headed up the charter train, pulling only its tender, a baggage car and a passenger car. The train departed Washington at 1:14 PM and arrived at the Manhattan Transfer, outside of New York City, 2 hours and 56 minutes later. Even though the aircraft arrived in New York first, the film brought by No. 460 was in theaters hours before the other, thanks to a film processing lab on board the baggage car.

This completes the trio of paintings for 
the ''Planes, Trains and Automobiles'' Invitational group show 
at the Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento, CA, March 3- April 5, 2012.

Elliott Fouts Gallery
4749 J. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95819 
-SOLD