Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day, everyone (although I realize for some of you, the day is almost over, depending on where you live)!

I was in college majoring in art when the first Earth Day occurred. I still remember faculty and students attaching black helium-filled balloons to -- I'd guess -- 100-foot/30m heavy-duty string, and both ends of the strings were affixed to building rooftops, forming huge arches of black balloons. These forms were intended to create a visual impression of the dirty smog and particulate matter that existed in the air over Los Angeles.

In those days, "ecology" was the buzz word used in advertising; today, we hear about "going green." Maybe tomorrow, it'll be something else.

I dropped out of college in 1973 but returned in the late 1980's to tie up the loose end that nagged at me for all those years. One of my instructors wanted us to complete a self-portrait as an assignment. I decided to make a drawing with an Earth Day-theme and later created a painting in 1988 from the drawing. That painting is featured here. (For some reason, the slide and subsequent PhotoCD made from the slide exaggerated my lip color!) As you can see, my back is turned to an incredibly filthy oil refinery as smog is beginning to creep into the forest in front of me, reflected in my glasses.

I may re-do the painting someday -- my rendering skills have increased tremendously in 21 years! Next time, I'd be more tempted to use an attractive female rather than my own (ahem!) face. But I probably wouldn't try to sell the work. The painting has an admittedly pessimistic theme, and I'm not sure anyone wants images like that on their walls. But it touches on my surreal past as an artist, and I'd like to squeeze more surreal works into my schedule. One of these days. (Yeah, right!)

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