Characters

Astronaut, 48 X 96″ oil on sealed rag paper mounted on plywood

In Palenque, there is an excavated door covered in glyphs, which is the basis of the silkscreen printed for the background of this painting. Partly because I am in Sedona and there is a contingent of folks here who think that currently extinct empires such as the Mayans were once in touch with people from the stars, I painted a tongue-in-cheek picture of Elvis, posing as John Glenn, as he appeared to the public in his hand made space suit, on top of a repeated image of the Palenque glyphs. Then, I pushed the glyphs back in space (and time) with a layer of cloudy smoky blues and pinks; finally I needed to pop the astronaut forward with stronger, more primary colors, using the colors typical of a circus show poster.

 

Tarzan, Ungawa  42X62″, framed with double-exposures from TV-    53X73″

Natalie, 28 X 42″ oil on canvas

Now it is easy with a DVR to record TV and look at it frame by frame, at leisure, but a few years back it was necessary to keep a tripod in front of the television and snap pictures as the film played. No rewind possible unless using a VCR and then the image was different than what you could see on a broadcast image. Since I was studying the look of broadcast images, I kept a tripod in front of the TV and spent a lot of time later looking through the negatives on a light table to choose the best frame. Broadcast TV looks different now with better technology and the older tech that millions watched nightly shows us something about how human vision works, in that what we actually saw and what we thought we were looking at were two different things. Our optic nerves are capable of on-the-fly translations. This painting is painted with darker and lighter horizontal lines and wavy vertical lines in imitation of the kind of interference that was common in broadcast images in general and in urban areas in particular. The subject, of course, is from “Splendor in the Grass” with a scene of Natalie Wood walking out into a lake at night, in the kind of close-up we are to read as internal emotion, and, with a great actress like Natalie Wood, we are confused about what the emotion could be- several can be read into this image. Making SITG was the high point of her career. A few years later she drowned.

Rutger Hauer, oilon canvas, 30 X 40″

Hauer was the best bad guy of his generation.

Hattie McDaniel. oil on canvas, 54 X 72″

Hattie McDaniel, the first Black woman to sing on the radio in America, was in over 300 films, receiving credit for about a fourth of them. She famously said “I would rather play a maid than be one” in answer to younger, later black actors who criticized her for taking submissive roles. The Hollywood of her day was one where buxom babes ruled the day, so I painted an image of her (from Gone With the Wind), surrounded by a frame with buxom actresses sunning themselves on the beach (something I shot from TV without noting the source material). She is cold, outside at night in a bathrobe. The halation and RGB burns in the image is in the context of watching reruns on Saturday television during the later decades of the 20th century.

Japanese Marilyn, oil on canvas, 42 X 58″

On a Toshiba CRT, with the color adjustments pushed, cyan and turquoise are over-represented, which I like. I used these settings to shoot a broadcast of the 1956 movie, Bus Stop, where Marilyn Monroe plays a character closer to her own life than the rest of her more musical roles. Because it was interpreted by a Toshiba TV, I called this Japanese Marilyn.

 TV has always been a media of talking heads and when there are moments where we are intended to catch a mood or emotion, the camera often zooms in so that we get just a head shot or a partial head shot, as in this composition. Since we have grown to be video-literate, we unconsciously understand what we are to get from these shots. Three elements converge together- the subject of Marilyn for one and the zoom and color settings too, and the broadcast 256-line texture as well, if you triangulate these three you arrive at a point in the middle which is the iconization, where we gestalt the visuals into an internal image for Marilyn Monroe- the thing (not the person). Everyone paints Marilyn just as 700 years ago, everyone painted a crucifixion. This is my take around a well-tread subject.

Lassie, oil on canvas, 30 X 44″

Since I grew up with Lassie, or the collection of collies that went together to form the TV star known as Lassie, I saw her, along with Bambi, as a member of the human family. She bridged the gap between the medieval human-centric view of our living planet and the more contemporary and more inclusive view of living things as forming a whole, without hierarchy. RinTin Tin, in books, comics and in film made it possible for dogs to become stars of the silver screen but Lassie took it further and became, in the hearts of children everywhere, the idea that nature could reach down to help us when no one was looking. A painting of a collie would not be a painting of Lassie. For it to read as her, it needed to be a painting of a TV screen that was busy displaying Lassie.

Lord of the Flies, oil on panel, 36 X 48″

In a fleeting role that became fossilized, James Aubrey played Ralph in William Golding and Peter Brook’s 1963 B&W version of Lord of the Flies. Subsequent versions, while less clumsy and more complex, have never been able to achieve anything close to the same effect as the ’63 version, which reads differently for sundry viewers in different decades under contemporary circumstances, like a bowl that is able to hold both soup or porridge. The character Ralph in print and in film has been a powerful icon for me and, I believe, for others of my generation. We watch crisp, white uniforms become bloodied rags as Innocence is lost in the course of the film. I referenced this particular frame for obvious reasons. I hoped for this painting to serve as a door through which people of my generation might glimpse the point when we first realized that we had lost our hold on childhood forever.

Waxing Wayne,        oil on canvas,    42X72″

Does “waxing” mean laying down a line of rapid fire from an automatic gun mounted in a plane?
If so, a painting based on an image shot of John Wayne in a WWII movie should be called “Waxing Wayne”. This is one of the earliest examples of painting from television and the crude pixel-by-pixel coloration works like a mosaic and keeps the image generalized and not specific. The main innovation here is developing a palette of glazes that, when layered, create a brightness of color similar to a TV screen. This cannot be done with impasto painting and cannot become with many pod the pigments available to the artist, but within each hue, there are lightfast colors that will hold brightness even when layered with other hues. Even today, I still use a palette based in part on this research.

 Phone Tap, oil on canvas, 22 X 24″

A long time before internet surveillance, “G- men” (g stands for Government) would tap into phone lines and eavesdrop. This was a common theme in detective films. (Another common, though weird theme was people getting hit on the head and developing amnesia.) This is a televised (as in shot from television, based on television, looks like television) image of that popular theme.

 Susan B. Anthony, oil on canvas, 30″ X 40″

Susan B. Anthony, a Quaker activist who died more than a century ago was co-founder of the first Women’s Temperance Movement and possibly the best-known name in today’s feminist movement. Her profile was on the recent vintage of a U.S. silver dollar, which was cancelled due to the confusion between that and a quarter. Because of her importance in shaping our modern world, I sought to make a comfortable image of her. Previously, my own personal image of her, because of the high collar, stiff posture and tightly braided hair, had been a fierce and warrior-like nun. To soften her image, I painted her three times- once in yellow, once in red and once in cyan. That version was too severe as well, so I layered a permanent rose pigment over all. It makes her glow and the glow infers special powers. She’ll need it with the life-begins-at-conception sultans. (We all know life begins at the big bang.) Given her extremism and activism, it is a safe bet that she would be in jail were she alive today.

 Joey & Penny, Oil on canvas with cyanotype inlay, 34 X 46″.

Original sold, quarter-sized prints available.

 


Illusions- Bucerias, digitally composed photography and graphics.

giclee on canvas   24 X 36″
Layering 35 simplified illustrations of optical illusions, and 5 photographs of street cooking in Bucerias, and using layer modalities and transparency sliders in Photoshop, along with other compositing tools, created a digital quilt totally without meaning but kinda grounded in the cook, who was sullenly cooking intestines while his mom prepared the tortillas.

3/4 face, oil on canvas, 18 X 24″

A fragment of a fragment of a fragment.a fragment of a fragment of a fragment

 

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