The story behind "Running Bear and Little White Dove"

Sometime in July, 2015 I received a notice from the Riverside Art Museum regarding their upcoming members' show. Its' theme is Drought (very timely here in California). I did not find this to be inspiring. I have grown weary of all things drought related. Some time later, however, I had an idea. Probably hit me while showering or walking the dog. I thought of an old song from my childhood about the Indian couple Running Bear and Little White Dove.  It was recorded by Johnny Preston and written by J. P. Richardson (aka The Big Bopper). It tells a story of unrequited love between a brave and a squaw separated by a river. In the end they simultaneously attempt to swim across the river to be together. Unfortunately, "as their hands touched and their lips met the raging river pulled them down. Now they'll always be together in their happy hunting ground". It struck me that the story might have a happier ending because of the drought. With no river they could just walk across the empty bed and hook up. My aim was to imitate sheet music from a fictitious "Music for dry times" version of the classic tune. The frame I designed to resemble a music stand. The show runs from Sept. 22 through Oct. 16, 2015.

The journey that led to "Jokanaan's Prophecy"

On a trip to Oklahoma to visit my father, I browsed at a second hand store. They have a small selection of used books and I always check for art related titles. I found "Salome" by Oscar Wilde with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley. It was unusual and foreign to me but I liked the plates so I bought it. It's an easy read. There was a passage that struck me. In the play, the prophet, Jokanaan, is imprisoned in a well by King Herod. He calls out to the king's step-daughter Salome, "The son of man hath come. The centaurs have hidden themselves in the rivers, and the sirens have left the rivers, and are lying beneath the leaves of the forest." I could envision this strange scene with sirens and centaurs and I liked the idea of a large painting that was mostly landscape but included these mythical figures. It was a long way from conception to realization. I spent weeks doing research, making sketches and taking photos of trees, people and landscapes. It was fun and very educational. I made the stretcher bars and stretched the canvas using proportions from a detailed sketch that I liked. The finished piece is 28 by 32 inches. I ended up doing the whole painting in black and white acrylics and editing the composition and tones extensively. When applying the oils I was able to focus on brushstrokes and color. My thanks to Chick Curtis and Paul Simon who both provided valuable suggestions along the way.

"You Are Here" Exhibit at Augie's March 1 - April 30, 2015

My interpretation of selected scenes from Riverside, CA, will be on display at Augie's Coffee Roasters located at 4205 Main Street in downtown Riverside. The show runs through the end of April. It includes some old paintings, some new paintings and some that have never been exhibited. Twelve oil paintings and one photomontage. I will be stopping by for a cappuccino and a little chat with anyone who is curious about the art. Times and dates to be announced.