I grew up surrounded by art. Not reproductions of famous paintings, but artwork created by my father. He was an Air Force pilot and art was one of his hobbies (he had many hobbies – a true Renaissance man of his generation). I’ve titled this post HeART and Soul because my father created his art with heart and soul. He loved painting, sculpting and drawing; art was his passion although it was never really a career.
My mother’s twin (my aunt) has always said that she’s never known anyone who uses both the left and right side of his brain as my father apparently did. Since I’m not a rocket scientist myself, having NOT inherited either my father’s math ability or his artistic streak, I’m no expert to judge. All I know is that I love his work, feel blessed to own some of it and if I had unlimited room, would gladly display more of it.
My father passed away on January 19, 2013 leaving a legacy of love and art. We were so very blessed to have had such a wonderful father and this post and earlier posts (High Flight, Dance Me to the End of Love, Remembering Grandpa, The Family Man, Daddy’s Girl, Sons of My Father, In the Arms of Love) are all dedicated to him. I know this seems like an enormous number of posts for one man, but he was so special to me and to many others and I have this need to share stories about him and our family’s life. Grieving takes on many forms and for me it’s writing and sharing.
When he retired from the Air Force, at the ripe old age of 43, he went back to college (he already had a degree in Architecture, graduating from college in the early fifties) and got a second Bachelor’s Degree in Art and then a Masters of Fine Art. During his time in college the second time around, he developed a process of combining acrylic and resin, two incompatible substances, creating many beautiful acrylic and resin sculptures. Also during this time, he painted abstract acrylic-on-canvas paintings, created figurative sculptures in Hydrocal (a white gypsum cement), concrete and bronze. Over the years, I’ve been the lucky recipient of his creativity and our home is full of his beautiful pieces. Every room in my home has something created by my father.
For a while, he sold some of his pieces in a couple of art galleries. But, promoting his work was never his “thing”, nor was making a living at it of importance to him. He was all about the creative process; but when he started to get massive headaches after grinding his sculptures for hours on end, he lost interest. So, he built an airplane from scratch! It took him 7 years and he built it in his garage. He flew it for a couple of years, but then was grounded because of a heart condition.
Here’s a description of his acrylic and resin sculptures in his words. He wrote this for his Masters Gallery showing in 1981:
“My sculpture is about light, color, mystery, and ‘motion.’ By integrating two very different transparent plastics, acrylic and polyester resin, I have been able to achieve new levels of aesthetic expression. Each sculpture creates its own mystery — a mystery to be unraveled by the viewer who is challenged to participate intimately on a variety of levels. In the sculptures, such intangible concerns as light and space in three dimensions are addressed. Light and color function as integral parts of each sculpture and a limitless variety of optical phenomena such as multiple internal reflections, spectrums, and lens effects can be achieved through their manipulation.
Reflecting surfaces, disappearing and reappearing forms, flickering shadow movements, internal and external spectrums, and glowing edges are some of the nontangible elements which create the mystery of each piece. Ambiguity and ambivalence are created by the viewer moving around the sculptures. They contain movement — movement is created – but nothing in the sculptures moves. These attributes provide another level of participation by forcing the viewer to move and react physically. No two views are the same and on each close examination one sees more and more. They become richer with each successive viewing.”
The above photo collage includes my father at his last art show. His assisted living facility put on an art show for any of the residents who created art, so my mother decided that my father should be represented. The kicker was that my father was hospitalized on May 31st and then transferred to a skilled nursing facility for rehab on June 4th. So, when the art show was announced, my father was still in rehab. My mother was determined that my father was participating in this art show and over the next several weeks, worked her magic on him, wheedling, cajoling, encouraging him to get better and stronger so that he would be released in time for the art show. And, incredibly, her magic worked.
On June 16th, the day of the art show, he was released from skilled nursing. I picked him up at 10:00 a.m., got him back to his facility by 11:00 a.m. in time for lunch and the 1:00 p.m. art show. It was a wonderful day for him – so many people, friends, residents and staff of the assisted living facility, came up and gave him a hug, welcoming him “home”. Then he had the honor of participating in the art show and many people stopped by to ask about his art and tell him how beautiful it is. The memory of that day fills my heart with happiness because it was a “good day” for him and he was thrilled.
The next day was Father’s Day and we spent several hours at a local area restaurant with him.
A good weekend and a happy memory…
I apologize for the amateur photography of my father’s glorious art work. I have yet to master my new fancy, dancy Nikon D-SLR camera that was a gift from my husband this past Christmas. But, I wanted the world to see what my father created and how incredibly talented he was. I’m going to ask my ex-brother-in-law, the professional photographer (and Tiffany’s father) to photograph my father’s art in the near future. When he does, I’ll feature my father’s art photographed by a professional photographer.
That, too, will be a good day.