|Last week I completed a painting of Frank Zappa that I began in high school, over thirty years ago. I hung it up in my office along with the acrylic painting of John Lennon and the large watercolor of John Cipollina, both of which were begun about the same time as Frank, but completed in the past few years. This has been a goal of mine for quite some time. I am terrible at finishing things… all kinds of things. So, I thought I would work through some unfinished projects, one by one, and see if I could develop a habit of completing whatever I start.
So, why do I call these three the Gallery of Dead Rock Stars? Well, when we lived in Maine, Denise had taken my unfinished art out of storage and nailed it to the exposed framing around the family room “down cellar.” Sue and Mark were visiting and she was surprised to learn that I was once an aspiring artist. She asked who the subjects were and I realized they were all dead… they were dead rock stars. So, that’s when I came up with the concept.
As I thought about it a little more, I remembered that I had begun a painting of another rock star at about the same time. It was a large oil of Steve Winwood from a photo, taken by a friend at a Traffic concert we went to. I was experimenting with airbrush, “floating” Mr. Winwood in mid-air ala Magritte. As I reflect on it, it was really very good but I was stressing out over it. It became a turning point for me as I crumpled it up and walked to the trash can at the curb and stuffed it in the barrel. I walked away from art and didn’t return for 30 years. Anyway, I think I may have saved Mr. Winwood’s life by not painting him. Everyone else I painted died young. Even in the portrait of John Cipollina, you can see the back of Greg Elmore — he’s still alive. Creepy, eh?
Actually, I’m not superstitious at all. It’s just a strange coincidence. And, if you are concerned about the little boy in the pencil drawing next to Frank, don’t be. First of all, it’s a drawing – not a painting. More importantly, little two-year-old Sam is not a rock star, so he’s safe.