America on Wheels

America on Wheels; Vintage Reflections

Artist Statement

In 2006, a painting of mine titled “Happy Days” was hung as part of an invitation art exhibit at the Symphony Center and Gallery in LaPorte, Indiana. It was a painting taken from a photograph of my cousin, Frankie and his friend, casually posed in front of his 1950 “souped” up Mercury. Frankie was only a few years older than I; but at that time, he seemed much older and much too cool to play “hide and seek” or “kick the can”. The photo brought back other childhood memories. The restaurant in the picture was also a gas station and often my brother and I would be sent there to buy Camel cigarettes for our dad. Usually, there was enough money left over to buy a couple of popsicles too! Those were wonderful times, especially the summers when the days were filled with the wonderment of play.

At the opening reception of the exhibit, one of my former professors commented on the painting and suggested that I do more of the same genre. I liked the idea of reproducing photos tromp d’oeil, so I made it my mission. I did a few more paintings and decided to enter one in the student show at Indiana University in South Bend where I was working on my BFA in painting. I won an Anonymous Alumni award for the painting titled Joe and the Dean of Fine Arts, Tom Miller made an offer to purchase the painting. Recently he told me that it was his favorite painting as he reminisced about his uncle’s farm in Iowa and how it brought back memories of his childhood.

Photographs are such a wonderful way of preserving history. When you look at old photos you see an image of how things were. If they are personal to you, you can say, “I remember that, oh, yes that was how it was then.” I love that! I chose to further preserve the memories in oil.

One of the difficulties of doing this series was finding photographs. The majority of the pictures came from family and friends. I chose the ones that, to me, had a story to tell and good compositional qualities. I think one of the most important things that I learned artistically from doing this series was being able to differentiate all the gradations of black and white. Part of my mission when doing this series was to interpret the impact of the wheel in American life. The wheel helped the buggy bring people to church, the covered wagon roll across the prairies, the airplane get off the ground in order to protect our nation. Who knows maybe in the near future wheels may become obsolete (we have the hover craft and the drone you know). Another part of my mission was to show through these “Vintage Reflections” my fascination with the everyday stories of America on Wheels.