Monday, February 27, 2012

grey skies, nothing but grey skies

Like most of you, I too did not receive an Oscar last night although we have had Carpinterians nominated in the past (miss you Dame Judith Anderson). And no, I was not "The Artist" at the 84th Academy Awards who did. I appreciated the Art Deco "old movie house" theme for the set design very much.
A few of you know that in the early 1980's, shortly after moving from Carpinteria to San Francisco, I created sets for a good number of shows in many venues and received the Bay Area Theater Critic's Circle Award for Best Set Design. Also I worked with my friend Steve Silver on his signature and long running spectacle "Beach Blanket Babylon" around the same time he did the set for an Academy Awards show (but my work never made it on stage in Hollywood). Not surprisingly many of my public murals are theatrically based in some way, including our very own "WSB" with a "center stage" and "proscenium arch" in mind and in a style which Josef Woodard (journalist/critic) once called "no-nonsense flamboyance"(SBNP/ Art Scene/ Art Review of my exhibit at Casa de la Guerra/ July 28, 2006). Love that line, thank you Mr. Woodard.

This may be helpful to those of you still challenged by my WSB "picture within a picture" composition. ( I'm still digging for the photo of me holding 2 Oscars on loan from Edith Head for a later post.) Also in the early 80's, The City of San Francisco commissioned me to create a mural only steps away from the SF Civic Center in "The Tenderloin", an area that had once been peppered with film studios, night clubs and small theaters. On the side of the 222 Club (site of the old "Blackhawk") I painted my version of the City's symbol which is the Pheonix rising from the flames. I painted a trompe l'oeil classical Greek revival facade that mimicked the surrounding structures, rising from the rubble (a nod to the "Great Quake of 1906") in a most theatrical way. Since we are part way through "WSB", I include a photo of "222" when it was 1/2 completed back in the early 80's. Painted in the Spring of the wettest year on record. 2012 may turn out to be the driest, however it is raining at the moment. Great for the forest, bad for mural painting.
"222" half way shot, 222 Hyde, SF, CA

Woke up to slight drizzle up here on Chismahoo Mountain. My bedroom is "the mural room" here at Casita del Botello. Surrounded by dark, naively painted panels of old Chismahoo and scenes of early Santa Barbara by Juan de Pacco in 1926 (more in future posts), I can peek through the multi paned century old windows down Rincon Canyon past the Point and see the dark grey clouds sweeping across the Santa Barbara Channel.
Window, Mural Room, Casita del Botello, Chismahoo

The road is still dry enough to drive down but no way I can paint if the wall is even "damp". Working with Acrylic Paint (water soluble) has it's advantages and disadvantages. The surface MUST BE DRY. I include a great web site here that will give you more info on murals than you could use, but will answer your many questions including "why are they not painting when there is a chance of showers?" < > . We ran out to offload paints and drops etc. from the back of the truck just in time. Here comes the rain.
Rincon Canyon, 2/27/12
Dogs, cats, cows and equine fed. Fire going in the old wood burning stove. Oatmeal please, JC.
This is going to give me chance to draw some of the images full scale on paper for transfer onto the wall once things have dried out. It also gives me time to describe here a little more about the "post card" central image of WSB. I have already painted the lifeguard tower loosely based on a photo by Rick Joy,  "Fourth of July at Carpinteria State Beach" that appeared in the Carpinteria Morning Rotary Club's 2008 Calendar. Thanks Rick Joy. One day last summer when I was photographing Main Beach I was pleased to notice that rainbow colored umbrellas were the most popular. Then on page 12 of CVN Jan. 5, 2012 there appeared a photo by Adam Caira of a lone rainbow colored umbrella subtitled "The first beach umbrella to shade a patch of city beach in 2012 bloomed early on New Year's Day..." Propinquity?
Most likely the post card we Carpinterians think of first is the one published in the late 70's by Casitas Hallmark Shop. This photo was taken by Carpinterian Virgil Cooper.
Back side of vintage postcard
Recently native Carpinterian Lou Panizzon (who grew up a few doors away from me on 8th St. and one block from our mural) took me to meet with Mr. Cooper, now a very young 94. I asked his permission to use his photo in our mural. Permission was graciously granted. I asked him how much he was paid for the photo. He donated it. I assured him I was following his lead. He spoke of knowing my Dad, Ernest, back when Mr. Cooper was helping to establish "The County Bank" where "Jack's Bagels" is now 1/2 block north of Wullbrandt Way. He had followed my career and was living in Mountain View, CA. when I did one of my largest public murals there (6,000 sq. ft. see future post). In his "WSB" photo sits a family of four near an umbrella down near "Jelly Bowl" with hand painted lettering "Carpinteria- World's Safest Beach". Scooting along in the background is the commuter boat returning from the oil platform.
Pannizon Family near Jelly Bowl by Virgil Cooper
Now try following this one: The Carp High Yearbook is called the "Chismahoo" (sound familiar?) In 1969 it's Editor was Silvia Echeveria (yep, Carp Beautiful Mural Committee Member and City Employee). Susie Christie and I worked with Silvia on the yearbook and the following year Susie and I became Co-Editors of "The Chismahoo". Still with me? Eventually Susie married Lou Panizzon, had a couple kids and posed for Virgil Cooper's postcard photo.
rough sketch for "WSB"

Also in our "Class of 70" was Matt Moore who is now my neighbor and fellow painter on Chismahoo Mountain. Got a surfboard in the mural for you Matt. Your logo was on the board in the rendering when it was approved by the ARB who approves City murals (and all signs) so it is not considered advertising!
MM logo on board from the beginning

To follow progress, go to "Older Posts", scroll to: "World's Safest Beach" at bottom for updated chronological shots.


  1. Howdy ho, John, from Bart the ghost in SF. Just wanted to let you know that we are really enjoying your blog. I much prefer it to Facebook because logging on to FB just scares me. The last time I did (months ago) I started getting "friend" invites from total strangers and some acquaintances who were insulted I did not want to be their "friend". Madness.

    We are so glad to learn what's goin' on - it sure sounds like you boys are downright settled into a nice life on the ranch. What fascinating tales and accomplishments from your past that you were too humble to share with us in SF - you knucklehead. You were friends & worked with Steve Silver!! Is your Tenderloin mural still there? Ever consider writing a memoir in your spare time? Growing up in Carp (incl Carp history by a Wullbrandt, of course), major historic times in SF, life on Lanai, the rebirth of Rancho Botello and so much more. Could be a good documentary, too.

    Kathryn was also most impressed with the art deco of the Oscar theater - you artists think alike. Learning about the backstory/context of your WSB mural really brings it alive. I should have guessed that it would be full of references/homages to real life & people.

    Gotta run pick up Jeremy, but will try to return from the Twilight Zone and give you a call. Love and hugs to you and J-C, Bart

  2. Bart,
    What a wonderful "comment" to come home to. I look forward to catching up on the phone and welcome to WSB.
    Miss y'all more than you could imagine.