The Painted Lady; a story of obsession

20 Sep

Hoppers "House by the Tracks"

I often ask myself  how our personal obsessions are born. We all have them, those deep-rooted interests that only seem to increase with age. Are they the product of childhood environment and parental influence? in some cases the answer is yes, or is it a link to a past life,which is my prefered answer. At an early age my parents knew I was a bit off-center, it was clear that I much preferred the solitude of paper and crayons to participation in team sports [much to my fathers dismay] I used to spend long hours drawing detailed representations of a number of subjects, houses, super finned cars,urban earthquakes or my interpretation of Superman’s Bizarro world [ from the influence of comic books, which I adored] My parents made the best of my proclivities by accepting and encouraging them. I am forever thankful for their love and support. As I grew they provided me with every toy building set available, first Lincoln Logs and Tinker-Toys which led to Erector sets [loved the electric motors] Girders and Panels,which were very 50’s, think Ho Jo .The next [ if anyone remembers] a set named Skyline became my favorite, it was retro in the 60’s. One could build structures similar to the terra-cotta clad Woolworth building, perfect for Godzilla like destruction tableau on a grand scale. Every kid has a destructive gene, I was no exception.

As I matured my interest shifted to model auto kits, due to, I imagine the wish to drive. This was the birth of true obsession. I dutifully preformed my paper route [which I hated]  to make three bucks that burnt holes in my pocket until I could run off on Saturdays to buy the latest AMT or Revell 3-in-1 auto kit. I spent a good three years amassing a collection of painted, wired and upholstered, Chevy’s, Fords and Lincolns. I was often the envy of the other kids in the hood. My obsession with controlling a miniature world was about to take me to higher ground.

I am fortunate to have grown up during a period when children were left to their own devices to entertain themselves, without the distractions that todays kids are subjected to. The only games we had were Battle Ship and Monopoly, which we would play for prolonged periods on the front porch during beautiful summer afternoons, childhood seemed longer then.

As I entered High School my interests turned to more serious pursuits, “Art” I was sent to the Cleveland Art Institute for Saturday classes in drawing. My world expanded quickly during this period under the influence of teachers who recognized my talents. I designed and built sets for school drama productions, drew cartoons for the school paper, did prom decor and was elected president of the Art Club for two years running.[I was a nerd but at least I had a talent] So what does this all have to do with the Painted Lady? Everything. The defining moment in my life came during the Summer of 69. I won a scholarship to attend the summer session at The Interlochen Center for the Arts outside of Traverse City Michigan. It was there that I realized that there was a whole world of artistic opportunities. A school full of obsessives just like me. I took a ceramic sculpture course and embarked on transferring my model building talents to clay. That summer I built a 3D rendition of  a Hopper painting, “House by the tracks” due to a  transformative high school teacher, Mary Sue Lang, one day she handed me the book of Edward Hoppers paintings and I knew I had found my artistic self. That painting and other Hoppers spoke to me in a way that no other artwork had ever touched me . The ceramic Victorian house I built that summer is the direct result of that moment. The sculpture still exists in the backyard garden of a dear friend.

Fast forward..Philadelphia University of the Arts or P.C.A . as it was called in the early 70’s. I’m not sentimental about my art college days. In fact I think I disliked them. The little fish in a BIG pond was intimidating for me. The East coast life style was a far cry from my mid-west upbringing. The art scene was turning to sculptural “happenings” and Phillip Perilstein’s huge nudes were all the rage. [although I did adore Warhol] I just didn’t fit in. To mitigate the bad taste left from art school, I returned to my roots. Building models. One day in the early 80’s I happened upon a model house kit, that was the beginning of  my Painted Lady, a thirty year journey back to where I began  The ultimate statement of my obsession with models, Hopper and the good times of youth. On cold dark February afternoons there is nothing more satisfying for me than to retreat into those simple pleasures I enjoyed as a child….”I was so much older then… I’m younger than that now” ….so true Bob…Take a look at the longest obsession ever told.

Heres the link




    One Response to “The Painted Lady; a story of obsession”

    1. kahlua cocktail October 20, 2011 at 9:30 am #

      There are some interesting points in time in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them heart to eye . There is some validity but I will take hold judgement until I look into it further. Good clause, thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner besides.

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